Stray Thought Thursday – Stepping Out Of Survival Mode


Welcome to Stray Thought Thursday, a new addition to the blog! Every now and then I’ll be posting about health and lifestyle information, subjects we talk about behind the scenes in your messages (anonymously of course) that I think would be helpful to others, and just some stray thoughts I think you may find helpful or interesting. If there’s something specific you’d like me to focus on in one of my Stray Thought Thursday posts, shoot me a message and I’ll do my best! 

Stepping Out of Survival Mode

Ever feel like you get caught in that endless loop of survival? I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been there. Some of us more than others. Or maybe you’re so caught up in the mode, you don’t realize that’s what you’re experiencing? Slowing down causes reflection and reflection makes you think. That kind of slow living and deep thinking comes with a lot of emotions and baggage attached. So you stay busy instead. Busy, busy, BUSY, until your body, finally out of sheer disgust with you says, “Enough is enough!”

Commence crash and burn.

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Survival mode usually starts because we’re burning the candle at both ends, juggling too much, or there’s an undercurrent of worry or fear running in the background about one thing or another that we dread dealing with. It’s all about control, isn’t it? Fear of lack of control or fear of too much control over things we don’t want control over. When we’re sick, overworked, injured, dealing with life issues –  we don’t want to give in to it so we push further when we should be resting. When we’re upset, that feeling is uncomfortable so we distract ourselves – social media, food, Netflix, friends, hobbies, or we disconnect from the world. When something needs to be addressed but communication is an issue with that person, we cram it down not wanting to rock the boat and add more stress to our lives – which of course, has the same result if not worse in the long run. On the flip side, when certain issues arise whether they’re ours to own or not, we jump into fix it mode because the reality of just living with the outcome of no solutions to a problem – are often hard to wrap our minds around.

Any of this sound familiar? You don’t have to have major issues going on in your life to get caught up in survival mode. Maybe there’s just a consistent stream of little things running like a current under the surface that wear you down?

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Survival mode inevitably starts to feel like running around with a back pack full of all the heavy stuff.  Stress, anxiety, overwhelm, exhaustion, and dread. You lug that pack everywhere with you even though the straps are digging into your shoulders, your back is sweating, and the weight of it is pulling you backward. You shower with it, work with it, relationship with it, eat with it, and go to bed with it. When more things to deal with pile on, you simply unzip it and stuff them in to handle at “a later date” weighing you down further.

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That backpack also comes with your special hiking frenemy – nervous energy. Let’s call it Zippy. Zippy is fueled by stress, nightly tossing and turning, rash decisions, refined sugar, and too much caffeine or booze or both – all the things you know break your body down, but Zippy talks you into anyway. Initially Zippy makes you feel like a rock star, cheering you on with that buzz of energy. “You’ve GOT THIS! No problem. You can handle THIS!” Zippy runs alongside convincing you that you’re just fine with that pack… that will eventually bring you to your knees.

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You’re on Zippy’s high until suddenly you’re not, and that bottoming out is a harsh one. You crash and burn on that trail to nowhere. The straps finally split from the weight of everything you’ve been avoiding and you’re left with bloody shins, bruised knees, and scraped up palms.

That’s when you’re reminded Zippy is more enemy than friend. You try to stand up but you’re legs feel like wet noodles and you’re drenched in the sweaty stench of bad decisions. Wired and tired, exhausted but jumpy, you realize you’ve been duped. There you are, swirling around at the bottom of, “Why do I do this to myself?”

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Where do you go from there? First, Zippy and everything it promotes, gets the boot. Don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya, Zippy!

Mindfulness is where we need to be focused every waking moment of every day in order to avoid the survival mode trap. Aware of our diets, how much movement we’re getting, how we are feeling about our mushy insides that we try so hard to protect, what messages are running through our heads behind the scenes, the state of our relationships and friendships, and most importantly, awareness about where we are in life. Are we experiencing joy? Peace? Fulfillment? Health? Are we voicing our gratefuls every day? There is no such thing as the perfect life in every area,  but if you can’t say yes to all of those questions above on at least a semi regular basis – you’re in survival mode and your one and only fantastic life, isn’t being lived.

I know, I hear you!  Raise your hand if you’re sick of hearing you need to be more mindful. It’s such a trendy buzz word these days. We’re so used to seeing it on our path  we just jump right over it on our way to bad decisions. If ‘mindfulness’ bothers you, we can switch it out with Awareness, or Watchfulness, or my personal favorite found on – Gingerliness!

Let’s go through life Gingerly shall we?

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The definition of gingerly is ‘with great care or cautious manner; delicately‘. Let’s do life with great care. Great care by paying attention to what serves our health and spiritual well-being, even when we are in the midst of ongoing stress, a seemingly impossible situation, or a crisis. Let’s remember to stay on track no matter what life throws at us large or small. Let’s do life with a cautious manner by avoiding negative old patterns of escapism and survival mode. By ditching unhealthy relationships – unhealthy foods and eating patterns- unhealthy choices – and ALL situations that do not serve us or the ones we love, our goals, or our health.

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Let’s live life delicately. Taking deep breaths, being truly present, minimizing chaos, seeking things to be grateful for, responding to life rather than reacting, speaking from the heart, learning how to let go, ditching validation, and filling our cups with the exact opposite of just surviving.

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 Repeat after me, “I will live my one life with great care. With a cautious manner, paying attention to what feeds me and makes me whole, physically and spiritually. I will live – gingerly“.

You were not created to live life in survival mode.

Blessings of peace to you ~ Gluten Free Zen

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All photos taken by me in the beautiful Methow Valley. 

4 Comments on “Stray Thought Thursday – Stepping Out Of Survival Mode

  1. April, this is FANTASTIC! Thank you, thank you, thank you… so needed to read this. Now, to actually live it out. Day by day, I know… I know. Keep writing and inspiring wit your words AND photos. #muchlove


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