Quarantine. Lockdown. Stay home. Save lives. Shelter in place. Pandemic.
These are survival words. What do survival words do? They trigger our brain to go into survival mode.
Your brain is designed to keep you safe and protect you from harm at all times. When your brain senses danger, it triggers the stress response, also known as this 'fight/flight/freeze' response.
Your body responds to the threat by producing cortisol, the stress hormone. Your heart may race, your muscles tense and digestion slows down, so that you have the opportunity to get rid of the threat and return to safety.
The stress response is a good thing in moderation. Constant survival mode is too much of a good thing.
Chronic stress wears you down, impairs your immune system and actually changes your brain. It's harder to access your prefrontal cortex, or the executive function of your brain. That means you're less able to plan, to think logically and to problem-solve.
The first step in getting out of survival mode and shifting to thriving mode is recognizing that you're in survival mode.
Most of us are in survival mode, given the current circumstances.
I invite you to think back to early December 2019, before most of us had heard of COVID. Is it possible you were in survival mode then?
Were you rushing around to meetings, holiday events and feeling frazzled? Were you having trouble sleeping, or feeling that you were just getting through each day? Did you suffer from the Sunday scaries or the Monday blahs, living for the weekend?
If you were in survival mode back then, the messaging and circumstances brought about by the pandemic solidified the survival pattern in your brain, making it harder and harder for you to get out of survival mode and enjoy life more.
The good news is, you can train your brain to shift from surviving to thriving. You don't have to wait until outside circumstances improve. You can do the important inner work to make the shift and transform your life at any time.
Improving your brain health and shifting your patterns helps you in all areas of your life - work, relationships and more.
I'll be sharing tips on how to get out of survival mode over the coming weeks. Message me or comment below with any questions or comments you have about survival mode.
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