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Survival mode and how I stopped being in it

Firstly I had no idea I was in survival mode. I didn’t even know what it meant. I’m fine, aren’t I? A healthy, happy, fit 45 year old! Isn’t that good enough?

I read a quote that spoke about sleeping and it said, “No one tells you… when you start to feel safe, you will feel exhausted. You will want to rest and sleep a lot more and do absolutely nothing. And that’s okay. After being in survival mode for so long, your body is tired and recognizes that you are safe and can finally collapse, breathe, and heal.” (Katie Nicole)

I was sleeping 10-11 hours a night. I was tired during the day. I just thought it was because I had a busy year. Selling everything like my boat and VW bus. Moving house, setting up a new business, supporting my daughter. Of course I’m tired! But this felt different. This felt like a version of sleep and tiredness I hadn’t had before. By 6:30pm every evening I was quite happy getting into my pajamas and curling up reading a book before totally passing out and going into a very deep sleep!

I decided to listen to my body and see what would happen if I slept when I needed to, ate when I needed food, and just sat and read whenever my brain felt like it needed a day off! The most incredible thing happened. I slowed down and realized I was smiling more, I wasn’t feeling anxious, I didn’t have any voices in my head!

I was basically reading a book about listening to your voices and what they are. I was understanding this in great detail when I suddenly realized my voices had disappeared! They had left me. There was no noise! Only a good voice that might recite what I was writing or help me make decisions. They had left me! I can’t remember when it happened, the exact day, but they just left me. I then became aware of all other elements that I had been feeling or doing and realized so much had changed since I began listening to my body.

  • Give my energy to people that need it

  • Say yes to things

  • Dance

  • Not need the sun all the time

  • Not be afraid

  • Know what I’m doing

  • No fear because my energy doesn’t need to protect me anymore

  • I can think about other things

  • Everything feels heightened and slowed down for me to appreciate it

  • Don’t need to prove myself anymore

  • Doing things for me

Ten signs you’re living in survival mode (Dr. Jaban Moore):

  • You’re tired all the time

  • You feel overwhelmed constantly you overreact to small things

  • You wake up stressed out

  • Everything feels urgent

  • You’re jumpy on edge

  • Nothing feels good enough

  • You always zone out

  • You frequently urinate

  • You sleep but never feel rested

This change or recovery didn’t just happen overnight. It’s been a process that I’ve learned for many many years. My recovery began after COVID. COVID was an instigator for me to begin to slow down. The trouble was the world started back up and bad habits formed again. People ask me “how come you’re so brave?”, “are you not scared?”. The truth is I’m more scared and fearful of NOT doing these things and having regrets. Life is short and I don’t want to waste a minute.

It might seem scary to make big changes, it is! But that’s okay. We help ourselves in order to benefit the future version of us. Whether that be the tomorrow version, or the 5 years down the line version, getting out of survival mode is about looking out for “future you” in ways that “past you” was not. Just start with baby steps.

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