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I need out: 5 tips to get beyond survival mode to embrace an intentional life

Friend, I see you.

Even before your feet hit the floor, your heart is already overwhelmed with stress and worry. You have people pulling on you, needing your time, calling your name, wanting you to show up.

The reality is some days and some seasons are just hard. There are sleepless nights, endless meetings, numerous doctor appointments, never-ending homework, crying children, and changing hormones.  

You sit wondering if you have anything left to give. A part of you questions even wanting to walk away—just for a bit. Step away from responsibility. Walk away from being needed. Walk away to have quiet, to have peace. 

But you don’t.

You do all you can to make it through the day. You get up. You push forward. You show up.

You survive.

If you are anything like me, survival mode can be a familiar friend. You put the game face on. You get the work done. You cook dinner. You do all you can to make through the next day, the next hour, the next minute. You’ve learned how to push through and keep going.

Maybe you are right there today.

If so, remember–surviving is not your stopping point. Be encouraged. 

You can have the thriving, full life not bound by circumstances. 

So, how do we get there? How can we get past simply living in survival mode and embrace an intentional life?

Lean on Christ

One of the hardest parts of being in survival mode is the lie; I am responsible for making all things happen for all people. We put the entire weight of making things happen on our shoulders. Friend, the first step in living an intentional life beyond survival mode is intentionally choosing to surrender to Christ every moment of every day. Christ is more than capable of carrying the weight of all of our stress, cares, and worries. Choose to lean on Christ. He’s got you friend!

Ask yourself:

  • What scriptures can I apply to my situation?
  • What is God showing me?
  • What areas am I trying to control instead of surrender?
  • Have I prayed about my day?

Practice gratitude

Every time you start to complain or fuss about your day, take a moment to reflect on the good. Say what you are thankful for out loud. Show appreciation for those around you. Start your day and end your night jotting down all you are grateful for. Whether you choose to keep a gratitude journal, a family gratitude jar or write thank you cards, making gratitude a regular part of your day is vital. Gratitude is a daily choice, regardless of your situations. This intentional step will help retrain your mind to see the good instead of seeing the lack. 

Ask yourself:

  • How has God blessed me today?
  • What is something positive about my day?
  • How can I encourage someone else today?

Pick up your “Do Less, Live More: A Gratitude Journal now.

Make wellness a priority

When we go into survival mode, one of the first areas we sacrifice is our wellness. We stop exercising, overeat, and go without enough sleep. All of these are bad habits that have long-term implications. Instead of putting off your wellness to take care of everyone, make it a priority.

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • How am I taking care of me?
  • Am I eating healthy to fuel my body?
  • What hobby have I ignored? How can I add it back into my life?
  • How can I incorporate exercise in my day?
  • How will I prioritize my health?
  • What will I do to protect my boundaries?

Pick your battles

There have been numerous times I lived in survival mode, especially when I was a momma with three fellas four and under or a momma taking care of four fellas while my hubby was on deployment. While it may be easy to pick the argument, fuss about the clothes not folded, be irritated about all the noise the kids are making, or tell off the coworker, we must be willing to know what does and does not require our attention or emotional space. Just because you can say something doesn’t mean you should.

If you want to know if you are picking the wrong battles, ask yourself:

  • Do I have the emotional capacity to respond in love?
  • Will responding to this create positive change?
  • Am I trying to be in control?
  • Will this matter?

Limit your commitments

To shift from survival mode to embracing an intentional life, be okay with paring life down to the basics. Don’t be afraid to cut everything that isn’t essential to your day. Would the play date be nice? Sure. Is it necessary? Nope. In some seasons, we must be willing to say no to things we want to do so we can have the capacity for what God has assigned to our hands. 

To know how to pare down your commitments, you need to acknowledge every area you have said yes. Make a list ON PAPER. Looking at these commitments, ask yourself:

  • Why did I say yes? Obligation? Fear? People-pleasing?
  • Why does this commitment matter?
  • How much time does this commitment require?
  • How does this commitment impact my family and me?
  • Will I be solely responsible for this commitment?
  • Is this my best yes?
  • What happens if I say no?

Lovely one, I hope today you have the courage and the strength to take just one step forward out of survival mode. One step toward the abundant life in Christ. You can step forward by leaning on Christ, practicing gratitude, making wellness a priority, picking your battles, and limiting your commitments. Just pick one. One step. One change. One decision.

Cheering you on,

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33 comments on “I need out: 5 tips to get beyond survival mode to embrace an intentional life

  1. TripleAmommy

    So agree with a lot of things you say. Prioritise and self care are my two important strategies.

  2. Renee Theresa

    This is absolutely perfect. For me limiting my commitment is my biggest issue. Thank you!

  3. Yes, yes, and yes!! Girl, this was such a great and relevant post! The need to control can add such anxiety and pressure, the unhealthy eating can deplete our already iffy hormones, and we do NOT have to make everything a big deal. I really liked this!

  4. Pingback: I need out: 5 tips to get beyond survival mode to embrace an intentional life – Rejoicing In Hope

  5. Here lately I have been all about peace and positivity. I’ve been praying and thinking about the things I am so thankful and grateful to have in my life. I do need to think about my commitments to myself more and stop being a people pleaser. Thank you for this.

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Oh Tish, that is wonderful you have been mindful about gratitude and positivity. Learning to simplify actually makes more room for the meaningful moments.

  6. Sonja- Too Much Character

    Again, you find ways to speak to my heart. I love your actionable tips to help turn things around, because we all have struggled as mothers.

  7. So beautifully written. I’ve been working on all of these (especially number 1) for the past few years and no longer feel like I’m just trying to get through the day. Living with intention is so important. I’m sure you are going to encourage so many mamas!

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Oh, thank you. Learning to lean on Christ has freed me and now I can enjoy a full life in Him. We don’t have to survive when He has promised us an abundant life.

  8. This really spoke to me. Reading this has made me realize I really am in survival mode these days and I hadn’t even notice because I was busy just trying to get through each day. I really need to take some me time for self care which has been severely lacking. I like the idea of writing things down. It does help me feel more commited and I feel encourage when I see it again and again. Awesome tips!

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Oh, I am glad you recognize you are in survival mode. That is the first step towards making change. Now you can decide to make different decisions and live a full life.

  9. These are awesome tips. In today’s world women are expected to do everything and we carry the guilt that we should be doing all those things. But, I am so happy to see more and more posts by people saying that its ok to set limits and to take care of ourselves.

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Oh, we must dispel the myth we are created to do all these things and do them well. We have limits and that’s okay. It makes us human.

  10. Beautifully written, so encouraging! Great tips as well. Thanks Mamie!

  11. This is such an essential layout for living abundantly. Taking care of mind, body and spirit is definitely so very key to feeling less overwhelmed. I think so often we forget that setting healthy boundaries with ourselves is absolutely just as important as setting them with others.

  12. This is wonderful. I’ve been struggling lately with burnout and am constantly trying to remember that I need to surrender to the Lord. It is his time, not min .

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Yes Christa! The burnout can feel real but we can take joy in knowing God is ready to carry every weight. We just need to surrender.

  13. I needed to hear this! With raising two under two I feel like I’m in survival mode!

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Oh, I have been there. Three of my four fellas were four and under. There were some challenging moments for sure.

  14. Wonderful tips. Over commitment is probably my biggest roadblock.

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Sadly, over commitment is a big issue for a lot of women. Saying no is powerful.

  15. I need this. Thanks so much.
    I so much love the part about picking the wrong battles.
    Also, thinking about one positive thing that happens in a day, one thing to be grateful for.
    Thanks.

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Gratitude has helped me a lot in the hard seasons. Choosing to find one good thing trickles to another. It makes such a difference.

  16. I love the tips for limiting your commitments. I used to say yes to everything but now I try to say “let me think about that”. You’ve given some great questions to ask myself during that “thinking” time.

    • Mamie L. Pack

      There is so much power in pausing before responding. We get to say yes to what really matters and what we really have the capacity to do.

  17. I love how this was written and for the wise tips in here. I have struggled with this. I got into a very intentional life and then a huge, hard season came and sent me back into survival mode. I am in the process of working my way back. This is so helpful.

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Oh, Desiree I have been there. It is great you recognize where you are and are choosing to take the steps to move forward.

  18. nadaliebardo

    Such great tips! I think sometimes we’re in “survival mode” well past when we need to be. It’s so instinctual, but we need to catch ourselves.

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Absolutely! Pausing to acknowledge where we are in survival mode and helps so we can take the steps to get out.

  19. I love this, Mamie! You’ve given such great, practical tips to let go of the chaos and live an intentional life focused on Christ. What a great example that sets for our kids as well.

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Thank you Wendy! When we learn, we are definitely able to pass along to our children for sure.

  20. staciesayzso

    I like to remind myself to choose my battles. I have to ask myself often if I’m trying to control things. It’s hard but sometimes you have to just release it.

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