5 Tips I Wish I Had Known to Get Out of Survival Mode

Want to move on with your life but not sure how? I share 5 tips I wish I had known sooner when I was stuck in my own survival mode.

FROM SURVIVAL MODE TO INTENTIONAL LIVING

There have been a handful of times in my life when I was trapped in survival mode.

Once when I became a new mom, another when I moved far from home, that time I was diagnosed with Lyme disease, and the most recent in this crazy pandemic.

Each of these times, I had to make a choice: either continue to believe the worst and feel sorry for myself, or pick myself up and learn how to move on. Most of the time, this came in the form of encouragement from family and friends, or slowing finding out I was stronger than I realized.

I wish I could go back and help 28-year-old Amy raise her violent toddler son again and tell her that everything would turn out ok, and that she didn’t need to worry about all the what-ifs for his future. I wish I could tell 31-year-old Amy the cause of her medical problems and speed up the healing process so she wouldn’t have to go through her daily depression. But I can’t and neither can you.

What I can do is offer you some advice in how I pulled myself out of survival mode and what I’ve learned works for me in hopes that it encourages you to take control of your own life.

ARE YOU LIVING IN SURVIVAL MODE?

I don’t know what you are dealing with, but if you feel like you’re living out groundhog day or you’re miserable most days, you are probably living in survival mode. Survival mode isn’t bad—but it’s supposed to be reserved for a short period of time, not morph into a lifestyle. If you feel like that’s what your life has become—a never ending cycle of merely getting the day over with, then you my friend, need a pep talk.

I needed this talk myself a few years ago, and I want to give it to you today. To encourage you that you don’t have to live this way, and that things will get better!

Here are 5 things I wish I had known sooner when I was trapped in my own survival mode:

5 TIPS FOR BREAKING FREE FROM SURVIVAL MODE

1. Get out of bed

With me, this is where I needed to start. With you, you might be wishing you could get into bed–needing a break is a big part of survival mode. However, in either situation, both need a reboot. What is it that will set you on a new course? Do it!

Here are 3 things that I recommend for anyone trying to make some changes in their life:

  • Create a morning routine – Add a few things to your morning that you look forward to or energize you.
  • Wake up early – I am a night owl, but as a mom, quiet mornings can’t be beat. I am calmer and happier on these days.
  • Make your bed – Something about this tiny accomplishment sets the tone for the day.

2. Talk about where you’re going, not where you are

This moment is hard and overwhelming—I get it. But imagining worst case scenarios or being stuck in an endless pity party is helpful to no one—especially yourself. What you’re going through is tough—absolutely—but don’t let it hold you prisoner. Start a gratitude journal, write down some goals you want to accomplish. Don’t beat yourself up with the if-onlys and what-ifs.

  • Stay hopeful and positive – Start a gratitude journal.
  • Dream big, set goals – Believe in yourself. Write down where you want to be in five years.
  • Stop imagining worst case scenarios – Seriously, not helpful!
  • Acknowledge the present moment – Stop with the regrets and the what ifs.

3. Open your Bible

For most of us in times of hardship, we wonder what the purpose of the suffering is, or how a good God could allow bad things to happen. Take these thoughts and questions to the One who made you. Open your Bible—study it, pray it, read it.

  • Learn about it – Easier said than done, but I have several strategies I recommend here.
  • Find passion in your study – For me, it was relating it to my struggles. Try these scripture studies here.

4. Stop comparing yourself to others

People will want to help. They’ll recommend you call so-and-so, or give you a book about someone who “went through what you’re going through”. Don’t beat yourself up if others “handle it better” than you. Everyone’s journey (no matter how similar) is completely different. Take it one day at a time. One of my favorite quotes for this is: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt”

  • Make your own mantra – Find something that speaks encouragement to you and repeat it and write it down everyday.
  • Stop comparing your beginning to their middle – This is hard, that’s ok! You’re on your own personal journey.

5. Don’t put off your some-days, act now!

Even before the pandemic, I lived in fear of going anywhere for awhile because of my disease. But after I decided it was now or never, we began taking our kids on more family vacations than ever before. And guess what? We survived! Yes, your life may look a little different now because risk is involved in doing something different than you’ve always done, but don’t waste your today living in fear. You’ve got this!

  • Remember, tomorrow isn’t promised – Take the trip, start the business, do those bucket list items!
  • Live for today – Even if you feel like today is a waste, it isn’t! Find the purpose in all your days by practicing gratitude.

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A great way to change your mindset when things get tough are to find things to look forward to. I did this by setting goals and new habits in my life. You can use my getting out of survival mode tips in this Goal Setting Workbook I designed specifically for this! You can purchase it in my shop or below:

For more on survival mode tips, check out:

You are not alone. You are capable. You’ve got this!

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What I Learned About Being Present from “Meditation and Mindfulness”

Grab my notes from “Meditation and Mindfulness” and see what Andy Puddicombe has to say about being present.

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for details.

FROM PAIN CATASTROPHIZING TO MEDITATION

I have had a fascination with meditation and mindfulness ever since I struggled with chronic pain. My illness left me panicky, worried and anxious at all times. I could never stay in the moment and deal with it in baby steps. Everything went immediately to worst-case scenarios and what ifs.

While my pain has improved (or at least my reaction to it), this year has thrown us all for a loop in how we deal with fear and anxiety. You may not be dealing with physical pain like I do, but to some degree, we all deal with some form of worry.

The best way I have learned to combat my own anxiety, is through learning about meditation and mindfulness–the practice of being present in the moment and learning how to deal with your thoughts in a healthy way. Mindfulness emcompasses so much more than gratitude and slowing down, and I feel like there’s no better teacher to get you started on this than Andy Puddicombe, the founder of my favorite app, Headspace.

Andy’s book, “Meditation and Mindfulness” walks you through his story as a college dropout turned circus performer turned monk—yes, you read that right—and how he learned about the transformative practice of meditation.

His story takes the intimidation out of meditation and equips you with realistic tools for helping you cultivate a healthier mental state through simple daily practices.

“We don’t think twice about exercising our bodies and yet the well-being of the mind tends to take a back seat.”

Page 13

MY NOTES FROM “MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS” BY ANDY PUDDICOMBE

WHAT DO PEOPLE USE MEDITATION FOR?

  • To relieve day to day stress
  • As a way to practice mindfulness and learning to be present
  • As a tool toward deeper spiritual growth
  • To help improve relationships with others

SAMPLE PRACTICES OF MEDITATION

  • Practice do nothing
  • Tune into your senses
  • Observe your physical sensations
  • Focus on good and bad sensations
  • Awareness of your feelings
  • Mental body scan

“[Meditation is] about training in awareness and understanding how and why you think and feel the way you do, and getting a healthy sense of perspective in the process.”

Page 14

ANALOGIES FOR DEALING WITH YOUR THOUGHTS

  • BUSY HIGHWAY (learning not to chase the cars, but simply observe and let them pass by)
  • BLUE SKY (that the thoughts may come and go, but the blue sky is always there if you look for it)
  • THE WILD HORSE (reigning in your thoughts slowly and gently instead of with force and anger)

RESEARCH ON MEDITATION & MINDFULNESS

  • Many mental health professionals recommend mindfulness-based meditation techniques to their patients.
  • Meditation triggers areas of the brain related to happiness.
  • Mindfulness reduces negative emotions.
  • Meditation lowers the stress-response in the body.
  • Mindfulness helps with reducing anxiety.
  • Meditation helps with pain sensitivity.
  • Meditation helps combat destructive impulses.
  • Mindfulness helps you focus on tasks.
  • Meditation aids in falling asleep.
  • Meditation helps improve age-related mental declines.

“When we feel angry the world can look very threatening: we see situations as obstacles and other people as enemies. And yet when we feel happy, the world can appear as quite a friendly place…The world around us has not changed that much, but our experience of that world is radically different.”

Page 62

BASIC STEPS TO A MEDITATION PRACTICE

  1. Get comfortable
  2. Start with deep breathing
  3. Count your breaths (this is where the longest part of the practice and focus is)
  4. Let the mind wander for a minute
  5. Gently open your eyes

“It can sometime feel as though we’re so busy remembering, planning and analyzing life, that we forget to experience life–as it actually is, rather than how we think it should be.”

Page 134

EXAMPLES OF MINDFULNESS DURING THE DAY

Being mindful simply means that you’re giving full attention to whatever you’re doing. It’s a practice of being present in the moment, instead of thinking about where you’d rather be or wishing things were different. Here are a few examples:

  • “Walking meditation” where you observe the things around you without getting distracted by your thoughts
  • Giving your full and undivided attention to someone when they’re speaking instead of waiting for your chance to talk
  • Enjoying an activity your kids choose to do together instead of wishing they’d pick something different
  • Eating a meal without watching TV or checking your phone
  • Absorbing yourself in a good book on Sunday night rather than stressing that it’s almost Monday morning
  • Being in tune to the smells while cooking a meal instead of rushing to get it done

10 SKILLS FROM BEING PRESENT AND LIVING MINDFULLY

  1. Perspective
  2. Communication
  3. Appreciation
  4. Kindness
  5. Compassion
  6. Balance
  7. Acceptance
  8. Composure
  9. Dedication
  10. Presence

“Just because we experience a thought doesn’t mean we have to react to it, or act upon it…we actually have the ability not to take thoughts too seriously.”

Page 87

ORDER THE BOOK

To order your own copy of “Meditation and Mindfulness” by Andy Puddicombe, click here:

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3 Ways to Practice Self-Care This Holiday

Take time to slow down this holiday and practice self-care with these 3 simple ways to unwind.

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for details.

SELF-CARE DURING THE HOLIDAYS

I don’t know about you, but I’m struggling this holiday season. This year has been one big disappointment to many of us. We had big events planned (like my 15th anniversary trip) that had to be canceled, missed milestones (like my kids attending their only year of school together) and more anxiety than we’ve ever wanted.

Lately, my anxiety has been through the roof. I’m trying my best to create an atmosphere of joyfulness and Christmas cheer, while battling the sadness of not seeing friends and family on top of the loneliness that comes with days on end at home.

I’ve been here before, and I know that it can lead to a downward spiral very quickly. I feel myself slipping back into survival mode, that feeling of wishing you could just skip over the next few months to when this is all over. But I’m reminded that today is just as important as those future tomorrows when my kids ask me for cuddles or help with breakfast.

If I don’t take the initiative to make time to check in with myself, I can easily go back into despair and self-pity. Here are 3 ways you can turn your day around and practice self-care in a way that energizes and motivates you this holiday.

3 WAYS TO PRACTICE SELF-CARE

1. SET A MORNING ROUTINE

This may be the hardest one on the list, but I promise it’s the most effective. The way you start your morning ripples down to how the rest of the day’s going to go. I used sleep in until the last possible moment, and usually ended up grumpy and reactive to everything around me. The kids need this, we’re running late for that…

But by waking earlier (and I seem to want to get up earlier than ever now that I see the benefits of my quiet time), you can be proactive—planning for the day’s emotions instead of reacting to them.

Set the tone for your day and your mind by trying out one of these:

2. DO SOMETHING RELAXING WITH OTHERS

It’s difficult not being around others this year. Unfortunately, marriages are suffering and child abuse has risen at an alarming rate. However, it’s not good for us to push others away and hide out by ourselves either. We need connection and community to thrive.

Switch gears from seeing each day as a repeat of the last and think of something fun you can do together. Lately, our family games seem to end in frustration because no one knows whose turn it is or someone keeps falling out of their chair…

Here are a few things you can do together that will cut down on the anxiety:

3. WIND DOWN AT NIGHT

This is where many of us start to lose it. We’re exhausted from the day, and bedtime routines are the last thing we want to implement. Our kids are whiny, the kitchen is messy, and the trash is piling up.

If we have nothing to look forward to, this time can be miserable. Don’t just crash after the kids are in bed, take some time for yourself before your head hits the pillow to calm your mind. Here are a few ways:

Do the best you can to set aside some time each day to have just for you. Whether it’s waking early, staying up late, a drive in the car, or an afternoon walk—put down the phone, and be present in the moment. Practice some self-care this holiday!

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE…

Take a moment and slow down today with this Coloring Book I created just for you! It includes most of my doodles from around my site and is a great way to unwind. You can find it in my shop here:

For more posts on self-care, read:

You’ve got this!

WANT TO LIVE YOUR DAYS WITH MORE INTENTION? SIGN UP HERE TO GET INSTANT ACCESS TO MY FREE PRINTABLES: