Wednesday, March 27, 2019

How I Walked Through Survival Mode

Survival mode is a real thing for moms. It can happen at any moment. Sometimes you think you've got it all together, you're on cruise control and then something happens out of no where and you're in survival mode. It might be a short lived survival mode or a long ride. Regardless of the length, it's a real thing and nothing to be ashamed of.

Survival mode looks like living day to day. It looks like doing what you know you need to do but not having any plan for the next step. You'll get there when you get there is your thought process. You know you should have a plan but you just keep thinking that if you can make it through today, you'll be fine. 

I've been there twice. 

The first time, I was a caregiver for my father. Eventually I had to quit my job to take care of him full time. Quitting my job, helped with survival mode but on bad days, weeks, or months I was in full-fledged survival mode.

The second time was after having my fourth child. 

Motherhood isn't a competition, so I won't bore you with the details of why I was in survival mode after her birth. Suffice it to say that everyone has their level of what they can handle. 

My story of survival mode may resonate with you or maybe your reason for survival mode may be different. Maybe you're a caretaker for a parent, have a special needs child or you've had a major life changing event such as a divorce or the death of a loved one.  All of these things can throw you into a tail spin and cause you to go into survival mode.

I'd love to tell you I found the way to move past it but after months of searching for answers and fighting my present reality, I realized getting out of it wasn't going to happen. I was going to go through survival mode regardless if I wanted to or not. So instead of fighting it, I did some things to not make it so bad.

To be completely transparent, I'm still there some days but we're having more good days than bad.

Here is how I've walked through it.

1. I Practiced Self-Care
I started with literally getting up and taking a shower everyday. I had to put on my oxygen mask before I could take care of anyone else. I had spent months trying to take care of everyone and everything and had forgotten to take care of myself.

I started going outside every afternoon while she napped. She only slept in 45 minute increments so it was a short lived solitude but it helped.

I also downloaded a book to my phone. Reading was something I loved to do I just hadn't taken time to do it in a long time.

Step to take: Find 3 things to do daily to help clear your mind and allow you to refresh your spirit.

Suggested Reading:
Self-Care Ideas for Moms

2. I Celebrated the Wins
Every Monday I would look back over the past week and what I had accomplished and how far I had come. I recognized that I had figured something new out about my little one. Or maybe I actually had showered everyday, or maybe I had gotten outside more.

Nothing was to small to celebrate. Everything was significant. Everything was a step in the right direction.

Step to take: Find 1 positive to celebrate every day or week. 

3. I Prioritized My Day
On Monday I would make a list of what needed to get done that week. Then everyday I'd pick 3 things to do with hopes of getting 2 done. This seemed like a reasonable bite sized list. Most days I could get to all 3 but if I only got to 2 then that was alright. 

Step to take: Make a list and then choose your top 2-3 daily.

4. I Offered Myself Forgiveness
Some days survival mode was worse than others. I literally couldn't think past breakfast towards what to cook for lunch. But I did change out of pajamas (win for me). I offered myself forgiveness and knew that not everyday would be stellar. Some days would just be what they were.

Step to take: Remind yourself there is always tomorrow.

5. I Learned to Say No
I backed away from any obligation that did not feel necessary for my family. If it interfered with our "routine" then I did not do it. 

Step to take: Practice saying no.

Suggested Reading: 
A Busy Mom's Guide to Saying No

Life in survival mode is difficult. It can be draining when you can't think straight because your brain is jumbled.

I was in survival mode longer than I felt comfortable with so I sought professional advice. If this sounds like you, please don't be afraid to seek help.

Survival mode is nothing to be ashamed of. We all go through it at different seasons in our lives. 

Although I didn't mention it, I also prayed and spent a lot of time reading my Bible. I read my devotions on my phone while I nursed and many a night time feeding I read my Bible and prayed. 

Friend, if you're in survival mode, I'm praying for you as you walk through it.

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