Self defence: Keep yourself safe with ‘situational awareness’

Using ‘situational awareness’ to protect yourself from crime.

With all the distractions that constantly face us on a day-to day basis, what steps can you take in self defence to protect yourself from becoming a victim of crime?

‘Situational awareness’ is the conscious decision to ‘pay attention to what is going on around you’. Making the choice to observe your surroundings in a relaxed state of mind, engages your brain to activate the ‘Reticular Activating System’ (RAS) which monitors your senses.

Three steps to building ‘situational awareness’

1. Establish a baseline:

Survival is based on the body’s ability to achieve homeostasis this is the brain function known as regulation. It is the baseline or a state of ‘normalcy’ – what things look like, sound like, and feel like. A baseline can differ depending on cultural or ethnic norms. Think of where you live. What do people look like? What clothes do they wear? What is the level of eye contact deemed socially acceptable? How slowly or quickly do they walk? Making observations such as these sends mental notes to the brain that form a baseline of ‘normalcy’.

Know your baseline and recognize the variations!

2. Assess:

The optimal state for awareness is ‘relaxed alert’. Your senses are slightly heightened yet you remain relaxed. In this state, you are focused and mindful which allows you to observe and evaluate more information about what is going on around you. Learn to recognize disturbances to the baseline and assess whether they present a threat or opportunity (even if your friends think you are being paranoid!)

Learn to assess the disturbance to baseline – threat or opportunity?

3. Action plan:

Place yourself in a position that allows you to take in the most information. Avoid obstructions or blind spots. For example, in a coffee shop situate yourself with your back to a wall to eliminate the possibility of something happening behind you. Mentally formulate a plan of action based on a hypothetical question, ‘if someone was to enter the coffee shop carrying a weapon how would I react?’

You are your best means of protection!

Practicing ‘situational awareness’ also demonstrates a heightened sense of awareness to others that may be targeting you. Those that commit crimes generally prey on the weak or the oblivious as they are more likely to be slow to react when it matters.

So the next time you are tempted to focus on your smartphone rather than observe your surroundings, remember that distractions such as this rob you of the opportunity to practice self defence using ‘situational awareness’ in times and places where it is needed most.

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