My favourite saying over the last few months has been, “it’s ok, I am just in survival mode”.
It took time out in Broome to realise that I have been in survival mode for the last 15 months since Covid when life changed in so many ways for all of us. I lost my mojo, my spark and direction. My family live in the Uk and I always joked I was only 24 hours away, and now with no International travel out of Australia, I could potentially be two years away from them. I have a business that relies on International travel and International travellers being able to get into Australia, it has been a tough transition moving into online teaching. I also threw myself into full-time University studies, which I love and hate all at the same time. I go between feeling like wonder woman to just wanting to be a crazy cat lady at home with my animals.
So, what does survival mode mean?
Survival mode is the short-term fear-based mode of thinking you enter when your fight or flight response is triggered. It can be triggered by trauma, chaos, grief, change or a pandemic. Your body goes into a stress response, triggering a cascade of hormones to give you the energy you need to fight or flee the incoming danger. The important word being ‘short term’. If this stress response goes on too long, it can leave us feeling exhausted and disconnected.
What happens to your body in survival mode?
Brain fog: lack of focus, trouble finishing activities, or just focusing on one activity.
Fatigue: Feeling tired and lethargic
Emotional: more emotional or reactive. Getting upset about things that wouldn’t normally upset you and taking things personally.
Anxiety and depression: Too much stress response can lead to anxiety and depression
Not looking after your own wellbeing: lack of exercise, self-care, good food etc.
I am sure many people feel these same feelings at the moment, especially if you are a control freak like me. Having no control of events happening around me has been an interesting learning experience. I decided to write this blog, not as a focus on me but to encourage honest conversations. Let other people know who may also be feeling this way that you aren’t the only one. You look at people and think you know what is going on underneath the surface, but you never really know what people think. And you know it’s ok to be honest and admit how you are feeling.
I aim to find my balance between wonder woman and crazy cat lady and embrace them both. On days when I feel like wonder woman, I embrace it and use it to be productive. On more challenging days, I have learned not to push myself. Recently, I have started to refocus on myself. I have started running (slowly), yoga, eating better, meditating and reminding myself of all the things I love. I love spending time with my family, reading a good book, studying and learning new things. I love to teach and seeing the spark in someone’s eyes when they have an ‘AHA’ moment. Reminding myself to breathe and reframe the way I look at life.