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What To Do When You’re In Survival Mode

This is a message for all of you who feel like you’re barely surviving right now. 

I’m right with you. For those who are thriving, I bow to you and honor where you’re at, but I’m finally admitting to myself that I’m just not there right now.

Whether you’re dealing with the effects of the pandemic or just going through difficult times personally or professionally, I thought it might help to remind you that you’re not alone and offer a few tips. None of this is new, but we could all use some friendly reminders.

3 ways to cope when you’re barely surviving:

#1: CALM

When we’re in survival mode, we need to get back to basics of breathing well, eating healthy foods, making sleep a priority, exercising regularly, and going outside for fresh air. 

This is the time when it’s crucial to keep up with our yoga and mindfulness practices, even if they look a little different. It may be taking deep breaths throughout the day to come back to the present moment, turning our negative thoughts into positives ones, and focusing on what’s right in front of us to come back to mindfulness. 

You may find yourself cleaning and organizing your house, car, or classroom to create calm and organized spaces around you. The main focus here is to surrender and accept where you are at and that this, too, shall pass. 

I had this realization last weekend that I’m feeling like I’m barely hanging on by a thread. My daughter is struggling with remote learning, and there are lots of daily explosions. My husband is working long hours at his new job and is depleted. And I’m juggling house life, supporting my daughter’s schoolwork, worrying about my mom, and managing Kids Yoga Stories. 

The weight lifted when I finally admitted to myself that it’s okay to be in this stage. I can just embrace it and stop thinking, “I should have this handled” and “I shouldn’t be falling apart because I have a blessed life.” 

Ask yourself this: What’s one thing I can do to bring calm to my life right now?


Once you have looked after the basic needs of yourself and the ones around you, it’s time to get curious about how to balance your energy throughout the day and fulfill your needs.

What are the things that are irritating and stressing you right now? Notice when you are particularly triggered and try to catch your reactions when they begin to form, before they’ve spiraled out of control. Focus on responding, instead of reacting. That’s easier said than done, but it’s worth getting curious about what’s under the surface of your big emotions.

Do you need to come to stillness with a gentle yoga practice? (I’m loving Yoga for Adriene on YouTube.) Or do you need to get your body moving and sweat out your worries? (Check out Fitness Blender videos on YouTube.)

What makes you feel good? Do more of that. What empties your bucket? Do less of that. 

Work to fill your days with as much positivity and gratitude as possible. When things get tough, bring some grace to the moment, take a deep breath, and let the big emotions pass through.

Think about what you and your loved ones need right now. Get curious about what’s under the surface of your children’s behaviors. What do they need to move through their big feelings? Remember that people who need the most love often show it in the most unloving of ways.

Give yourself time and space to get curious about the bigger picture. Know that whatever is causing you stress, depression, or anger will pass and that healing can start to occur now. Remember that what you resist persists—so allow yourself to fully feel the big emotions right now. Breathe through it. 

Ask yourself this: What’s one practice that I could add to my day that would nourish my mind, body, and spirit?


When we are pulled into all different directions and overcome with stress, it’s hard to see clearly—I get that. But once you have built a strong foundation (see #1 Calm) and gotten curious about your life as it is right now (see #2 Curious), then the next step is to connect with yourself. Place one hand on your belly button and one hand on your forehead. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, taking a moment to connect to yourself. Try this now.

Once you are feeling grounded and calm, reach out to connect with those around you. Spend time with your children and loved ones, connecting with them on a deeper level—listen to them, ask questions, and give them space to express their emotions through talking, moving their bodies, or reading books together. 

Using the work of Dr. Ross Greene, you could use a collaborative problem-solving technique to say, “I’ve noticed that… What’s up?” And then work together to help them identify the challenges and come up with solutions. Because we know full well that children can’t possibly learn when they are in their “fight, flight, or freeze” mode.

I used this strategy on the weekend with my daughter about remote learning and she finally opened up about how it’s hard to keep up with the instructions of the class and ask for help. So, this week, I’ve been taking notice of when she gets frustrated and try to help her before she explodes. We take a deep breath, step back, and come back to work through the schoolwork together. As my friend Lani from Full of Joy Yoga describes it, we’re helping her move from her bulldog brain (amygdala) to her wise owl brain (prefrontal cortex), so she’s ready to learn.

Ask yourself this: Who is someone I could connect with today?

This is hard right now. But we’ll get through this, one day at a time, one breath at a time, one big feeling at a time. We can do this by coming back to the basics and looking after ourselves, getting curious, and connecting with those around us. Sending love and peace to you all.


To help children be calm, connect, and learn this year, we are absolutely going to need to teach them to express their emotions in a safe and healthy way.

If you’re looking for a different way to explore emotions, check out our Exploring Emotions in 10 Minutes a Day digital download.

You’ll find simple yoga and mindfulness activities as calming strategies for ten different emotions. Help children build their own self-regulation skills through breathwork and movement!

exploring emotions | Kids Yoga Stories
Exploring Emotions in 10 Minutes a Day


3 Simple and Powerful tips for parents and teachers in survival mode | Kids Yoga Stories
What To Do When You’re In Survival Mode

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