Survival Mode. Ahhhhhhh the state I lived in for about 30 years of my life without even realizing it. Lovely.
I was addicted to it without even knowing it. I knew it well but had no idea that I wasn’t living life fully….I had no idea that I was just ‘getting’ by. I was a super positive woman and never in a million years would have thought I had any fears (aside from sharks and lions, tigers and bears…o my!).
In February, I turned 34 years old and it wasn’t until four years ago when I turned 30 that I started to realize that I was living in pure survival mode and had a fear mentality that wasn’t obvious to me until I started to go inwards and realize I was blocking myself to so many things in my life because of fear. Another word for survival mode is stress mode. When we feel threatened in our life, our survival mode kicks into gear. I spent way too many years focusing all of my attention on helping myself out of threatening health situations. I was in and out of doctors offices, my Epsom salt baths, my infrared sauna, my healers, my body workers, my acupuncturist, etc. and reading book after book after book and listening to podcasts and seminars and webinars that pertained to my health issues. I engrossed myself in the subject to heal myself and it turns out I did end up healing myself, which was incredible. However, one of the biggest lessons I learned from chronic illness was that most of the people in the world are living in survival mode without even realizing it. Scared of losing their job, their health, terrorism, GMO’s, non-organic foods, chemicals, losing loved ones, being abandoned, not being good enough, etc…the list goes on and on.
Turns out there is a way to get ourselves out of this stressful mode to get our life back and LIVE again.
First, make a game plan. If it’s a health issue that is keeping you stuck, write down what’s going on in a list, then prioritize the list and figure out your first step, then your second step, then your third step and so on. If we look at the big picture, it can be overwhelming. When I was in my 20’s and my blood work would come in, I’d see about 30 things that were ‘off’ and I can recall wondering what was the chicken and what was the egg? How did all of this start? Was my liver off because of my candida? Was my thyroid off because of the chemicals in my life? Was my hemoglobin off because I wasn’t eating red meat? Was my sodium too high because I was eating a lot of salt? I had no idea. I wanted to get everything fixed and I dove into everything to try to fix everything at once, which meant going to a ton of doctors who all told me to do something different. I was confused. That’s when I sat myself down and started to do things step by step. Slowly. One thing at a time. If you want to see results, start with one thing first and if that doesn’t work, move on after 3 months and try something different. Give your body time to heal and also time to feel the effects of each treatment and each new doctor or protocol. Doing everything at once isn’t going to help you- it will just confuse you. Trust me. I learned that lesson trying to do everything until I hit a wall with it about 20 times.
Breathe from your belly not your chest. This is how you signal your parasympathetic nervous system, the system that allows you to relax and detox. If you breathe from your chest, you are using your sympathetic nervous system, which is the fight or flight response. You can read more about this in my post on Cortisol.
Reframe the way you look at your life. What is draining you? What is energizing you? Make a list. Seriously. Make a LIST. You won’t see it and realize it until you put it in writing. Trust me. Based on that list, make the changes you need to bring more peace and less stress into your life.
Listen to Your Body
What do you need? The last 12 months I needed QUIET. Pure quiet and reflecting time. I made no plans. Didn’t travel much and stayed home a LOT. I needed it. The thought of being with people exhausted me. I was in my last stages of healing and was dealing with so many modalities that my body needed a lot of sleep, rest and relaxation. I read books, I meditated, I got quiet and only did things that I wanted to do. I started saying NO more and doing things that I felt good about doing. I let go of friendships that no longer worked for me or that I was working too hard for—I don’t have time for that anymore and neither do you.
Listen to What Your ‘Inner Critic’ Is Telling Yourself
What is that voice in your mind telling you everyday? What are you telling yourself when you look at yourself in the mirror? When you mess up on something? When your body isn’t cooperating with you? When you gain weight? When you see wrinkles on your face? When you break out with a pimple? When you are abandoned in a relationship? When you don’t do as well as you were expecting on a work project or a school test? When you don’t think someone likes you and you think of a million reasons why? All of these things are those voices in your mind that are keeping you from living your life in peace. Everyone has these voices but we just don’t all realize them. I didn’t until I was 30 and now I’m aware of my ‘inner critic’ as we all have. I witness it, thank it for its opinion and then send myself loving thoughts and move on.
Easier said than done. Trust me on this one, as well. I never realized I had any fear in my life. I’m an incredibly confident and successful and smart woman who is incredibly ambitious and loving and happy. BUT—once I started getting quiet with myself I started realizing I had a lot of fears. Fears of finding a nice man since I’ve been single for so many years of my life, fears of adding back new foods into my lifestyle that once made me very sick, fears of leaving my apartment where I was so ‘safe’ and cozy for so many years healing myself, fear of being seen since I was still puffy from my progesterone incident, fears of not really knowing who I was after being sick for so many years and mostly fears of how to enter the world now that I was fully healed. These may not sound like a big deal but they were and they were keeping me stuck. I was in my own way. I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase before but maybe you didn’t realize what it meant. Neither did I. Until I was in the thick of it all.
Sit with yourself, close your eyes and start to visualize the healthy and happy you. What would your life look like? How will you act? How will you dress? How will you be? Ask yourself these questions and FEEEEEEEEEEL it. This feeling is in your heart. Thinking about it isn’t what this is about. The purpose of this is to open your heart and actually FEEL what you want and where you see yourself in a restful, healthy, happy state of life- not in survival mode.
LIVE and Believe You Can Safe Yourself
You’re the only person that can save yourself. No doctor, therapist, teacher, parent, spouse, child, friend, etc. can do it for you. You’ve got to find the tools that work for you and start using them to save yourself to pull yourself out of this survival mentality because you want to live a healthy and happy life. Who wants to live in fear and stress all day? Not me. That’s exhausting and just thinking about that makes my body cringe.
Start living your life today. Stop fearing all the things that COULD happen. Stop fearing what food can do to you and start looking at what food can do FOR you. What can your life do FOR you? Go and do that. Go do what makes your heart sing. Go paint, go for a walk, go for a bike ride, go meditate or sit in stillness, go on a getaway or a road trip or a drive to somewhere that makes you happy, go take yourself to a nice tea or coffee shop and savor each sip, go take a bath and care for yourself.
Start living and stop surviving. Life is too short.
Try a few of these examples everyday before bed at night or when you wake up in the morning to help train your mind to get out of living in a fear mentality.
Share your thoughts
Thanks for this post Amie. I guess I am in survival mode and my body doesn’t listen to me. Feel lost. Feel stuck. Many doctors, many tests. Still not healed. I do have a chronic history of trauma, leading to more and more trauma. I am working on my diet, supplements etc. Haven’t got the expected result yet. I feel my life is very tough. I understand there are few others whose life is equally tough like me. Don’t know what else to write. Sending love to all who are struggling.
You are not alone. Keep going. You can do this. It’s taken me years so be patient with yourself. Much love, xx
Do you have a book on how to get out of survival mode?
Stay tuned, Jonie. Big love. xx
omg thank you so much for this article!! i have been trying to figure out what i had for a long time and never thought it was survival mode. thank you for sharing your experiences. i feel so much better now :). i would like to know if you have a survival mode book that you wrote?? thanks again!!
Hi Jass! SO glad this resonates with you. My first book is called Eating Clean and it’s about detox, inflammation, and the root cause of health problems. You might like my Instagram, where I talk about mind-body issues all of the time. Xxo have a lovely day!
Manifestation. The law of attraction. Magic is real and this is how you do it
Keep on working, great job!
“Having read this I thought it was very enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this article together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!”
Before I started reading this I was in survival mode, nothing felt right and it was getting too overwhelming. After reading this, I feel saved. I feel okay. I feel normal. and its that feeling that you never want to let go of. You are right about ourselves being the ones to pull us out of these downfalls. I searched this up and I feel better now. I appreciate your blog, your website, your words, your presence. Thank you.
Hi Sereen – we are so happy to hear this. Health issues can be so overwhelming and these stress emotions can get in the way of your healing.
Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with the world. Your honesty and positivity is so wonderful, and calming and uplifting. I love your March playlist too! What a gift. Many thanks 🙏
Thank YOU Tammy! So happy to have you here. Much love, x
It can be incredibly expensive, but the cost is worth it once you start to feel better. It can be difficult but cutting other expenses (clothes, cable, other “luxuries”) definitely helps. Those on a limited income may have difficulty finding room in their budget for doctor visits and testing. However, eliminating foods and toxins in the home is a good way to start. I think the biggest take away is tackling one issue at a time. It is simple yet sound advice that most people overlook.
Thank you JL; so glad you are on this journey. It’s all about tackling one thing at a time- you’re on your way! oxx
Thank you for sharing this. I have been struggling health wise for the last 5 years and basically in my mind, coming back from death. I am exhausted. I am so much better but still working on things. It’s like there is this last piece that needs to click and I don’t know how to get there..and I a so tired of the struggles. I am over all of it and I am over supplements and the fear and the worry. I just want my life back again.
You inspire me to keep going. Thank you for sharing your journey.
Sending you so much love Krista. Life is a journey; know you are being guided and train yourself to see the beauty everywhere and in each step you make with your health. xox
Thank you! I am definitely in the “survival” mode as I recover from a 2nd occurence of pericarditis. Your words bring calm to this whirlwind of questions with few answers. While I am still in the process of meeting with doctors & more doctors, I am also seeking a more holistic approach to recovery so am grateful for your information. I can’t wait to try your recipes.
Thank you Abby; sending you a huge hug. Stay positive! ox
I think this is great and I have bought your book, but what is the cost? You have mentioned from you book you had a lot of disease including Lyme. Whether one gets treated with long term antibiotics, herbs from a Naturopathic Doctor, or a combination of both, this takes a substantial amount of money. So, as much as this post is great and heart warming, and I believe in a lot of these therapies to aid in this healing, what about people who cannot afford all of this? what would you say to them, and how they should heal? Always curious.
The link to my book is on the right column of my website and it’s called Eating Clean. It’s discounted on amazon.com when you click on the link. My best advice is that you have to do everything in moderation to afford it all. I save my money and spend it on wellness practices; I hope that helps. I’ve saved over the years and don’t spend money on vacations/clothes/etc so that I can afford this all myself.