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Survival mode is simply waking up every day rebooting yourself in “SAFE MODE” like our computers. When you’re computer is in SAFE MODE it doesn’t look the same, apps may not work properly, and it operates slower than usual. That’s YOU in survival mode… your high functioning brain has SHUT DOWN!

We respond to survival mode in 4 ways:

1) fight- facing the challenges head on
2) flight -you’re putting it off or “escaping”
3) freeze- unable to move, you’re stuck
4) fawn- acting to please or avoid conflict

Survival mode puts a strain on you and your relationships! If you are THRIVING, high-five to you friend! Reach back and help someone else who is merely surviving with kind words, gestures, or resources.

How do you know if you’re in survival mode?

Here are six tell-tale signs: 

  1. Forgetting to take care of your basic needs.

  2. Feel more tired than usual or expected.

  3. Short fuse; emotion regulation has gone out the window.

  4. Memory issues, forgetting important things/dates.

  5. Multitasking becomes challenging.

  6. You simply feel confused and burnt out.

Knowing you’re in survival mode can help you prevent or manage staying in survival mode.

You can't stay in survival mode for too long before it affects your Mental and Physical health.

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Three ways to survive “survival” mode are: 

Self compassion

  • Give yourself permission to be human, allow yourself to make mistakes. You’re not the only imperfect person on this earth making mistakes (we all are imperfect beings). 
  • Change your self talk, hush that inner critic. Become aware of your internal narrative and what you’re telling yourself.
  • Use Releasing Statements that releases you from the negative feelings. Go from “I’m such an impatient person” to “It’s ok, I’m upset and may have lost my patience, it’s my body’s instinct to help me survive.”
  • Tap into your caregiving system. Care for yourself the way you’d care for others.



  • Manage thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to be proactive and not reactive. 
  • Ground yourself by staying in the present moment noticing things around you, that you can see, hear, smell, touch, or taste. 
  • Practice mindfulness, it’s a way to center yourself. Start by taking deep breaths, go for a walk, evaluate your emotions in silence, Ask “What am I feeling?” instead of “Why am I feeling this way?”
  • Ride it out- feel what you need to feel instead of avoiding it. Feeling often come back because we always push them away. 



  •  When you’re in survival mode one of your FIVE dimensions of wellness is being impacted; spiritual, physical, intellectual, social, or emotional. Figure out which one. The Jefferson Center has a great article to help you figure out which one. 
  • Explore meaningful self care routines and rituals. Often we think of bubble baths, massages, etc. Be realistic about what’s going to work for you. 
  • Manage your expectations- expecting the same outputs of yourself everyday is a recipe for burn out! Don’t ignore the external factors or disruptions happening within and around you.
  • Remain hopeful- survival mode happens it’s our human nature to SURVIVE. With a little intentionality you can reboot yourself and THRIVE. 

Leave a comment below and let us know how you will respond to survival mode. If you’re thriving in any area please share a tip to help someone else out! 

Check out our resources that will empower you to THRIVE in the relationships that matter most! That includes the relationship you have with yourself, spouse, and others!

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