On Her Own

How to be safer next year

The week between Christmas and New Year’s often seems like a gap in time, a moment when the world collectively holds its breath and takes a break. Many businesses are closed, or people out on vacation. If you are working, you’re often having to deal with more people than usual not working. Everything seems like it’s just a little bit harder to get done, and there are good arguments for going along with that flow and taking this time to relax and rest as much as you can for the coming year. I’d like to suggest an opposite approach, though: take advantage of the quiet to get the things done that will prepare you for January and beyond. I know you won’t have these moments if you have kids and family home for the holidays, or are working retail or food service, but for those of you who are getting some bonus days because you’re off work or it’s quiet in the office, here are some suggestions to set you up for for a safer and healthier 2022:

Pick three safety changes that you will incorporate into your life this year. They can be small ones, like remembering to lock your doors and windows consistently, or putting pepper spray on your key chain. They can be big ones, like deciding that you will find a way to effectively conceal your firearm and comfortably carry it everywhere you can by law and policy. They can also be one-time changes, little ones like making your front door more secure and changing the locks finally, or even huge ones like finding a new job or home in a less crime-ridden neighborhood. Write them down in a list you won’t lose, and instead of waiting until January 1, start working on them today.

Plan and budget for the self-defense training and equipment you’re going to invest in next year. Class schedules often post around this time, and getting them on your calendar now will help you prevent scheduling over them later, or having the one time you can make sell out and become unavailable. You’ll also be making life a little easier for instructors and hosts, because they won’t have to hope for last-minute sign-ups to avoid having to cancel the class entirely. And if you know what gear you want to buy for those classes and for your general self-defense preparation, you’ll be able to start saving your cash and tracking prices today, so you are ready when you see a deal. Why now instead of some other time? Why not now? After all, you can keep putting off clicking “Buy” if it’s always “tomorrow.”

Make space and time for yourself, to practice the skills you already know. Just because you learned a technique at one time or another, doesn’t mean you remember how to do it later – even more so if you need to use it when you don’t have time to think about and experiment with just how you were supposed to perform it. Recency is one of the biggest determining factors on whether you will be able to successfully call upon a specific skill under pressure. It’s not just being really good at something (and be honest with yourself about how good you really are with a skill you learned over one weekend, several years ago), but also being familiar with it from the near past. Think about riding a bike, and how while you may have ridden everywhere in your youth, you’ll need a few minutes or more to be able to get going on a new bicycle as an adult. It’s the same with fighting and shooting and even aiming pepper spray.

Along with that practice, commit to not just exercising, but to taking care of your body so that it gets into better condition to survive the fight. We all know that we need to work out more, not necessarily for weight management so much as having the strength and cardiovascular fitness to be able to function both in everyday life and in a potential struggle for our lives. What might be enough for normal day to day activity is less likely to be enough when it comes to someone who is determined to hurt you in an attack, let alone surviving the injuries they might inflict. Somewhere in the middle, we also need to be in good enough condition to not be killed off by our own bodies. Physical fitness is the key to preventing a myriad of illnesses and injuries, and in being able to heal from many others. And it’s not just working out, but taking care of those niggling problems that can make it harder for us to move, to fight, and to stay well. After all, why worry about a bad guy hurting you if you can blow your knee all by yourself?

And finally, not least of all, intentionally decide how you will refresh yourself when the stresses of daily life become too much. What hobby or craft or other pursuit will you take up? Instead of resorting to doom-scrolling social media when you are bored or upset, create intentions now of what you will default to instead. Then set yourself up for success: gather the supplies you’ll need, and any guides or instructions that might help. The idea is to remove barriers from taking that thing up, to make it simple to go do it instead of another source of “I should” tension. That might mean setting up a box with your next project and all of the tools you will need, or an area of your living space with everything all ready to go, chargers and all. A reading or music nook, perhaps, or a needlework or origami basket. Something and somewhere to keep your mind and soul as healthy and safe as your body.

Hi, I'm Annette.

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