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  • Writer's pictureAndy at Fireside Fundraising

Are you in survival mode?



After the busiest few weeks ever, life is finally starting to return to normal. That being said, this week I have flown to Amsterdam for the IFC conference, and I can't wait to come back and share with you everything I learnt, and all the amazing people I met.


When I put my out of office on for these few days that I'm away, I was already fearing the number of emails I'd come back to. You know that feeling when you've been away, you open your emails, and are met with a 2, or even 3 digit number glaring back at you from your inbox.


This can trigger 'survival mode', where our bodies and minds are overwhelmed and therefore we revert to our most basic functioning; fight, flight or freeze.


"I wish my brain would recognise that fight or flight is for life-threatening situations, not answering emails..."


Survival mode is our brain responding to threat. The amygdala, a tiny little part of our limbic system, is in charge of our emotional responses. It organises our physiological responses to the information we have available. The thing is, it makes snap decisions on this... so we can't always judge what is a threat to life, and what is just a bit of an inconvenience. Hence why the inbox number can make us feel like we're fighting a tiger.


What does survival mode look like?

  • Lack of focus (procrastination by another name would smell just as unproductive)

  • Changes in memory

  • Fatigue

  • Emotionally reactive

  • Forgetting to care for basic needs

  • More impulsive

All of these are a sign that your body has triggered the production of more cortisol, which initially can help you to focus, but too much for too long can backfire. A great book on this is When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress, by Dr. Gabor Maté.

So, are you in survival mode? To break this, remember the 'three selfs' - self-compassion, self-regulation, and self-care.

Self-compassion: Do what you can, when you can. You can do anything, but you can't do everything. Self-regulation: Try some grounding techniques (You can find some good ones to do from your desk here). Self-care: Take a break, read a book, watch another episode of that series you're binging.

And whatever you do, don't feel guilty about it.


Take care of yourselves. That inbox, that meeting, that report is not a life-threatening predator, I promise. Big love, Andy X

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