Are you Living in Survival Mode?

Share this Article

Modern life and its challenges leaves us feeling as though there is very little time for relaxation and often our days are filled with things we “have to”, “should” and “need to” get done.

Even our downtime usually revolves around doing tasks, social media or screen-based socialising, all of which are not conducive to relaxation. This leaves our brains running on autopilot in our daily lives as our subconscious mind has to handle most of our decision-making, which can often lead to impulsive behaviour and bad decisions, as well as negative thinking.

This state of “survival mode” can be detrimental to our health, wellbeing and our relationships. It’s an important question to ask, as many don’t often recognise when they are, but… Are you living in survival mode, right now? And if so, how do you get out of it and engage with life on a more relaxed level instead?  

Acting without Thinking

Do you often find yourself doing things without remembering the process of what you did, or how you got there? Perhaps you’ve had the experience of walking into a room and forgetting what you went in for? These are examples of living on automatic thought (or “autopilot” as it’s called in Mindfulness meditation).

Other examples include leaving the house and wondering if you locked the door because you can’t remember checking, or in conversation, you might find yourself reacting instantly to what the other person has said without really thinking about what their comment, or what you’re saying.

Alternatively, is your free time spent on addictive activities such as gaming, scrolling through social media feeds, watching TV, etc. when really you would ideally like to work towards your goals or do something meaningful instead?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be acting in autopilot or “survival mode”. During these times, we usually regress to doing what we’ve always done without thinking about whether it’s the best option for what we want to achieve, right now.

Psychotherapy at Newcastle Psychologist & Counselling can help you become aware of your automatic thoughts and bring you into the present moment. Therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy and even Mindfulness Meditation can help you disengage from unhelpful behaviours and re-engage with what you want to achieve in life.


If you spend a lot of time replaying past events, dwelling on what somebody has said to you and imagining different outcomes without consciously choosing to think about them, you may be stuck in a cycle of rumination.

There are several reasons for doing this that could be linked to different mental health difficulties such as depression, anxiety, anger, or trauma or PTSD, all of which come with their own negative thoughts and patterns of rumination.  

Rumination can often feel as though we are analysing or problem solving, but in reality, it tends to perpetuate the problem by keeping our mind going over and over the same difficulty. In the longer term, rumination can cause difficulties with anxiety, anger and have impact on our work, relationships and how we function in day to day life.

Rumination and negative thinking can be helped by tailored psychotherapy with an experienced therapist. If you struggle with rumination, our specialists in psychotherapy at Newcastle Psychologist & Counselling can help using a range of proven talking therapies that help challenge negative thoughts, and unhook from rumination. 

Contact Us

If you would like to discuss your situation to see whether one of our psychologists or counsellors in Newcastle can help you deal with the difficulties you might be experiencing, whether face to face or online via Skype, Zoom, Facetime or WhatsApp video, contact us using the box below or call us on 07966 645 198.

Dr Stuart Sadler (Chartered Psychologist)

Best wishes,

Dr Stuart Sadler

Lead Clinical Psychologist

Share this Article