With our modern lifestyles, many of us are experts at survival mode. With the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, we’re pretty adjusted to living with stress…
WHAT IS SURVIVAL MODE?
… but that doesn’t mean it isn’t taking a toll on our health over time. Especially with 2020 in the mix. Survival mode (or panic mode) is something we’ve all experienced. You know what we mean – picture driving down the highway and having a car abruptly cut you off. Your heart rate might speed up, your palms get sweaty, your stomach is in knots and your emotions spiral. This is a NATURAL physiological response. However, when you’re living in it on a daily basis, it can become dangerous.
COMMON SIGNS YOU’RE
LIVING IN SURVIVAL MODE
Sometimes (actually, most times) when we are in survival mode we aren’t even aware of it at all. It’s not until hindsight that we realize we were in it and that it was impacting our wellness. Here are 7 ways to check in to tell whether or not you’re in your fight or flight mode:
SURVIVAL MODE SIGN #1:
USING THE WORD “NEED”
Language is SO powerful! Our brains are primed to think that when we “NEED” something, that it is for survival. In our modern day, most of us reading this are lucky to have our basic needs met, so we MUST distinguish between “nice to have and NEED to have”. Overusing this word can KEEP OUR PHYSIOLOGY in that “emergency” or survival state.
Listen to yourself. If you find yourself saying, “I need those shoes, I need a new car, more money, more time” and so on, try swapping it with, “It would be NICE to have, I’d love, I desire, I’d like” which don’t have us burning out to try and “get” the thing we claim we “need” (which at times, never really has a ceiling. Like when is “more” enough?).
When our brain hears “NEED” it makes our cells think we are missing a BASIC need. Get stressed it says! Don’t forget to use it when appropriate: we NEED clean air, shelter, food, water, sunshine etc. Try saying “I need water, I need sleep, I need to rest, I need some fresh air”!
SURVIVAL MODE SIGN #2:
Some things to look out for include clenching teeth, clenching fists, hands shaking, and a stiff body (as if you are ready to run/take off). Speaking of having a stiff body, did you know that this type of thing can stem from having muscles slightly clenched all day (like you are ready to sprint at any given moment). This can create low grade “tension” in the muscles. If you are feeling sore/tight, come see us for a TMB FIIX treatment!
SURVIVAL MODE SIGN #3:
PUPILS CONSTANTLY DILATED
Pupils should react to light. When it’s brighter around you, they should naturally constrict. Imagine a photo of someone who is super stressed out – You’ll notice it will depict really large pupils.
TMB TIP: With your phone in “selfie mode”, keep your eyes closed in a dark room and then turn on the light and open your eyes and see if your pupils constrict to the light.
SURVIVAL MODE SIGN #4:
YOUR APPETITE HAS CHANGED (HIGHER OR LOWER)
When facing stress, many people’s appetites will turn off. Many people will go to NO appetite. Think of your last breakup or the loss of a loved one, you might have had a hard time eating for a while while you processed your emotions. However, for some, this can swing the opposite way too and you can end up “stress” eating, overeating etc.
SURVIVAL MODE SIGN #5:
YOU HAVE A TON OF ENERGY TO BURN
(BUT NO ACTUAL ENERGY AT THE SAME TIME)
Examples of this can include craving hard workouts, cardio like running, packing your to-do list, and/or feeling wired, followed by hard crashes. Think of it like almost getting addicted to the “high” of rushing and being busy. This is a “wired and tired” phenomenon that can happen. It’s like fight and flight happening simultaneously. It can also be stress addiction, which many people struggle with.
SURVIVAL MODE SIGN #6:
EXCESSIVE WORRY OR ANXIETY
In any “normal time” (what even is normal anymore?), our higher reasoning and rationality would kick in reminding us that everything will be ok and work out. However, when we are in survival mode, our body is primed for survival so our primitive brain (the same one that can make a mother suddenly lift a car to get her child out) takes over.
SURVIVAL MODE SIGN #7:
When you don’t have “time” for things that aren’t at the same level of “busy”, you might be in survival mode. If you have trouble making time for ‘menial’ things like meditation, deep breathing, making it to sleep on time, drinking water, eating properly balanced meals, checking in with yourself, asking “how am I today?” it could also be a sign of fight or flight.
GET BACK ON TRACK THE TMB WAY
Never has our health been more top of mind than this year… As a starting point, we always recommend the things you can google: Spend 10-20 minutes every day checking in with yourself, meditating, journaling, walking in nature, or even just enjoying some quiet time alone away from screens. These types of activities help us activate our PNS. When we are in this state, our body is in a resting state, meaning our body is able to rest, heal, detoxify, build, and reproduce.
If you’ve TRIED THE GOOGLE THINGS…
FACT: The best time to see a functional medicine practitioner isn’t when something is wrong. Think about when you go to see a financial adviser – You don’t book an appointment with them when you are going bankrupt.
On the contrary – The best time to see them is when you have SOME wealth so they have something to play with. When we are at the end of our rope (in dire straights), it’s likely that functional medicine isn’t going to be the first line defense. That’s where conventional medicine shines – in the face of acute issues like a heart attack or a broken arm.
Addressing STRESS and survival mode is a BIG part of our practice:
ACUPUNCTURE WITH TMB
Studies show that acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin and other neuroendocrine effects that signal and regulate the parasympathetic nervous system. Acupuncture also addresses the side effects of stress, like high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose levels, and insomnia. If you need some zen, our 20 minute acupuncture-only visit (no fascial release) might be just what the doctor ordered!
FUNC MED FOCUS WITH TMB
The beauty of functional medicine testing gives us data to see where exactly you are on the spectrum of stress, all of which need to be addressed differently with diet, lifestyle and supplement strategies. For example, are you running on the adrenaline high? Crashed and burnt out? Or are you wired and tired? To find out if our 8 week program would be the right fit for you, book yourself in for a FREE 15 minute video consultation.
LIKE WHAT YOU’RE READING?
This article is excerpted from our weekly TMB Magazine — an exclusive subscriber only publication that is packed with all sorts of in-depth latest study breakdowns, functional medicine insights and wisdom from Dr. Bhat and her team.
Discover even more about your health, body and wellness and unlock your bio-individual power! Sign up today!