Walking alone at night can often feel unsafe, especially if you live in the city. Some people try to avoid going outside when it gets dark, but that can be incredibly restrictive. In winter, the nights draw in quicker and the light can fade even before you’ve left work. Everyone, at least once, will have to walk home alone at night, so it’s important that you feel safe.
Feeling vulnerable can make you nervous as you walk the streets, but there are ways to feel in control. Sometimes it’s about mind over matter and you have to build up the mental courage to walk alone, other times you feel the need for physical protection. We want to empower you to walk the streets confidently, as you have a right to be there. So, we’ve collected a few tips on how you can feel safer when walking at night.
It’s good to carry precautionary measures like a small self defense kit, just in case something does happen. You can get a range of products that will fit in a bag. This will provide you with more confidence to walk late at night. Hopefully, you won’t have to ever use it, but it will help you feel safer knowing that you have it ready in case of an emergency.
Wear Comfy Shoes
You might feel happy and confident wearing heels on a night out, and that’s great! But they can be very painful when walking home, so it’s a good idea to stash some pumps in your handbag. Walking home in tight, painful heels can hurt your feet and will make your journey home slower. A small pair of pumps can squeeze into a bag, so when it’s time to go home you know you’ll have a comfy walk.
Phone a Friend
Friends are so important in helping our mental health and reducing stress. They are also the best people to call when you’re nervous about walking home. It will increase your confidence knowing that someone is listening to you and will deter anyone from approaching you. If it’s early in the night a pleasant chat will keep your spirits up.
Trust Your Instincts
Your instincts are normally right, so trust them! If somewhere looks dodgy or it doesn’t feel right, then turn away and go a different route. Also, if you suspect someone is following you make them aware that you’ve clocked them and avoid going straight to your car or house. Instead, walk to a public area wait until you feel safe, or order a taxi.
Stick to Lit up Areas
Where possible try to stick to areas that have streetlamps, as these areas have fewer loiterers. It may take longer to go a route that is better lit up but it’s worth it, so avoid dark back alleys or unlit car parks if you can. This also applies if you have to walk on the road, as you want to be seen by ongoing traffic, so make sure to walk against the traffic so you can see them.
Keep Your Keys Out
Keep your keys in your hand and get the one you need to use at the ready. If someone is following you and you’re very close to home, you want to be ready to quickly get into your house before they can approach you. Also, keeping keys between your fingers is a good last-minute defense mechanism if someone does get too close.
There are many ways to fake it until you make it, as giving the allusion of confidence will reduce the amount you get approached. If you’re in an unknown area and you think you’re lost, don’t look lost. Instead, keep your head up, avoid looking at your phone and do steady strides as if you know where you’re going. If you want to pause and collect yourself just stride to the nearest store.
If you’re nervous and anxious it can be tempting to block out the world by putting headphones on. However, when walking home alone it’s important to keep all your senses on alert, so you can instantly hear if there’s a commotion up ahead. This will also help you avoid traffic, as earphones might prevent you from hearing a car approach.
Light Your Way
It’s a good idea to wear reflective gear or have a light on you. This way you’ll be seen by traffic, whereas black clothes will make it hard to see you. The more lit up you are the safer you will be near roads. This will also benefit you if you have to walk down dark side streets. It will make you feel more prepared and in control of your surroundings.
Give someone a text when you leave a place and say when you should be back. If you live alone it’s good to nominate one of your friends to text when you’re safely home. This can reduce your anxiety as you’ll feel protected knowing they care. Tell them your plans and travel route, you can even get apps where friends can see where you are.
Stride with Confidence…
If you struggle with the anxiety of walking alone it can be hard to take the first steps outside. The dark can be nerve-wracking, but it’s possible to feel safe when walking at night. You deserve to be able to stroll or run in the dark. Often women, in particular, are told not to go outside when it gets dark but they deserve to be there just as much as the men.
Follow a few of our tips to feel a bit more confident walking at night time. Remember that it’s always best to walk with a friend or in the daylight where possible, but if you find yourself walking about as it gets dark try not to panic. Take a few breaths and remember the best ways to keep safe.
Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash