Much of the time when we are out and about we are unaware of what is going on around us and this can make us vulnerable. Developing good situational awareness skills can keep us safe.
We have all had moments when we felt unsafe or vulnerable or when bad things happened to us because we weren’t paying attention. Being more aware of our surroundings can make sure we stay safe and feel confident in our ability to take care of ourselves.
When we know what to do in potentially dangerous situations, we feel more confident. This can actually reduce the likelihood of someone else preying on us.
Of course, we don’t want to spend our lives worrying about the bad things that might happen. But if we have a few tactics ready for difficult situations, this leaves us free to relax and enjoy our lives.
Situational awareness is being aware of our surroundings including the people, cars and other things around us. Being aware of our environment can give us a sixth sense for danger. When we are more aware of what is going on around us we become finely attuned to notice when something is off.
There are several key skills that can improve our situational awareness:
1. Develop peripheral vision
Often we are very focused when we are out and about. Our minds are on where we are going, what we want to achieve or just the shiny things in the shop window we pass. Of course, we want to get things done, however, developing our peripheral vision can help us stay aware of what is going on around us.
When we only use our direct vision, we can miss potential dangers. If we aren’t aware of things in our peripheral vision, we might miss that car that is just turning the corner and coming towards us or that stranger that is lurking a little too close. When we are aware of what is going on around us, we can take action to keep ourselves safe.
Try using your peripheral vision next time you are out and about. With practice, you can be focused on something, such as a conversation with a friend, yet still aware of everything else that is going on around you.
2. Be aware of how you project yourself
If you are distracted or look scared, you make yourself more vulnerable. Potential attackers will be put off by someone who is aware of their surroundings and walks with confidence. Good upright posture can be your best friend. Knowing some simple tricks can also put off a potential attacker.
For example, rather than looking back over your shoulder to see if someone is following you, stop and move to a place where your back is against the wall. Then you so you can turn to look at them properly. This will put off most potential attackers as they will not only see that you are confident and aware, but you will have got a good look at them, too. It also prevents someone from coming up behind you and catching you unaware.
3. Follow your intuition
Our subconscious minds and our senses process more information than our conscious is aware of. This means we pick up on things that are just not right without always knowing why.
It is wise to pay attention to our intuition. If a person or situation makes us feel uncomfortable, then we should remove ourselves and get somewhere where we feel more at ease.
4. Avoid distractions
Often we make ourselves vulnerable by being unaware of our surroundings. If we are looking at our phones and have our headphones in, we cannot see or hear want is going on in our environment. This lack of situational awareness is potentially dangerous. We are less aware of road hazards, other people with suspicious motives or just everyday things that may get in our way and cause us to hurt ourselves such as ladders, scaffolding and lampposts.
If we are upset and emotional, we also make ourselves vulnerable. If you have received upsetting news, go somewhere safe, such as a coffee shop and wait until you have calmed down.
5. Plan to keep yourself safe
Being aware of an environment can keep you safe. Of course, it is never wise to walk alone down a dark alleyway at night or get in a car with a stranger. But wherever you are, it is sensible to know where the exits are and the nearest source of help that is available to you. Having a plan for what you will do in the case of trouble helps you to feel more confident, too.
For example, if you feel like you are being followed, stop and pretend you went the wrong way. If the person reroutes to follow you, then you can take action. You could stop to speak to someone, make your way to a busy area or phone for help. If you are driving and you think you are being followed, lock the doors and pull over, allowing the other car to pass.
The thought that you may be in danger can be worrying. However, improving your situational awareness actually makes you feel more confident. You can’t live your life worrying about what might be around the next corner. However, you can take sensible precautions to stay safe and happy.
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