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Put simply, situational awareness is being conscious of your surroundings, in order to be prepared and safe. It is possible to develop a sixth sense of danger, whilst still enjoying yourself and living in the moment. However, there are specific tricks to doing this. We’ve put together 5 of the best ways that you can improve your situational awareness, so as to protect yourself if a dangerous situation should arise.
The one thing we should always listen to is our gut instinct. Much has been written about how we ignore its signals too often in response to signs of danger. We have all experienced a visceral reaction to situations where things just didn’t add up and signified some type of threat or danger. It’s important that you pay attention to these feelings. They will alert you and ultimately protect you. Adhering to these warning signs can be applied to both physical threats and also to alert you to people with questionable integrity.
One of the best ways you can improve your situational awareness is to increase your fitness. Not only will this make you feel more capable and safer, it will make you feel more prepared if a dangerous situation does arise. A great way to enhance your fitness for situational awareness is to engage in martial arts classes, such as krav maga. Based on the self-defence used by combat, defence and law enforcement units around the world, krav maga has been effectively adapted for training the average person on how to defend themselves in the streets.
- Peripheral vision
Most people use predominantly direct vision. However, the person with enhanced situational awareness will incorporate peripheral vision when out in public, too. For an exercise, attempt to have a conversation with someone whilst trying to observe what is going around you, without breaking eye contact. Maintain your focus and continue to listen to what they are saying, but try and gauge your surroundings at the same time. This will allow you to monitor a wider degree of space and detect something suspicious.
- Watch your back
This might seem cliche, but it’s always a good idea to try and watch behind you. Instead of looking over your shoulder, place your back against a surface if possible to remove the possibility of someone getting behind you or in a blind spot. This is a great tactic when you are in a crowded area, such as a party, and cannot see everything. When you walk into a crowded space, try to identify the surfaces and walls that you could stand in front of when checking your surroundings.
- Become a hard target
Of course, sometimes people are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, this can be somewhat mitigated if you make yourself a difficult target. This includes maintaining an appearance of confidence, no matter how vulnerable you feel. As well as this, if you come across as very much aware of your surroundings, then you will become less prone to be taken by surprise by any kind of attack or dangerous situation. Always keep an eye on the people, physical locations and interpersonal interactions that are taking place around you.
So, the next time you step into a coffee shop, train station or busy commercial building, try to do the above simple exercises to sharpen your awareness tactics. Listen to your gut feeling, and think about what self-defence exercises you could employ given the situation. Utilise your peripheral vision, and always keep an eye on who is behind you and following you. Ultimately, if you make yourself a hard target, you can absolutely mitigate the chance of danger.