The 3 Main Brain Modes for Success: Survive, Create, Sleep, Repeat

The Pitfalls of Survival Mode

The past few weeks I feel as if I have only been in survival mode. I avoid this pattern in my life like the plague. Most of people’s stress comes from being in survival mode too long. This is what it might look like. I will give you an example from yesterday.

I worked in my office from 8:30 am – 2:30 pm. I was problem solving and brain storming (pun intended) with people about the really big issues in their lives. Of course I approach the problems from the perspective of brain performance. Most people do not. People love this fresh approach. Honestly, I do too.

Anyway, helping people with problem’s is definitely survival mode. On top of that I am running my own business which has its own ins and outs. This too is survival mode.

Survival Mode Happens at Home Too

Then guess what happens next. After making my way across town through traffic to my children’s schools I pick the lot of them up. We get home. We are changing bedrooms because child #6 is moving in. He is 27 and will be with us for a while. Everyone is excited, but it is a change. My oldest daughter is losing some free space she previously had to herself and it hits her like a ton of bricks. She loses it. She thought I left but I was right up the stairs from her. I hear her sobbing and I respond. A few minutes loving minutes later, she is fine. Her space is restored.

What’s Next?

No joke, before I am done with her, I here wailing from two floors up. Off I go. It is my youngest. Apparently, relationship issues with her best friend are happening at school. She is upset and melting down. Not frequently one to melt down is she, so it must be big. An hour later, 2 teacher emails, 1 best friend text and phone call (for me), and 3 episodes of Spirit, for her, it is all better.

Off to see what is shaking with the other 3 kids. Child #4 needs alot of help with his 6th grade Math homework that I have become quite good at over the past month. Kid #3 has run of the mill friend drama going on. Nothing that can’t be solved by “comfort food”, her words. Kiddo #2 has new Honors classes and he needs help from his mom. Unfortunately for him and me, he is not used to needing help so it is a wee bit challenging for him to accept my loving feedback. After trying to help him see the advantages of having a mom who has been in school for the last 40 years (I wish I was kidding) I make some headway. It is a process, not an event, but I help him make his work better. In the end we succeed.

Putting Out Fires in Survival Mode

I joked that I felt like a fireman, running from fire to fire. But, like a fireman I had to stay calm and collected while I did my job.

What is Survival Mode?

Survival mode is traffic, people’s problems, crying children, relationships lost, getting bad grades and learning new skills and no dinner because mom was too busy.

Survival mode consists mostly of extra fast brain processing speed, High Beta. This speed makes it so that you can respond to crises as they come at you. Thank God, I was able to keep myself together like a rock star throughout the entire day. I never got one break. At the end of the night I went for a quick run. It is my way of decompressing out of survival mode into a slower more creative, integrative mode. Then I poured a glass of Chardonnay, one of my favorites, lit candles on my back porch, and reflected. Reflection after a busy, slightly crazy day helps me move through it. I don’t like issues lingering in my nervous system overnight so I “debrief” myself and let them go until another day.

Creative Mode for Healing and Health

Creative mode is the opposite, it is slower, calmer processing speed in the brain. It is the speed I use when I write or when I cook. Creative mode is made of Alpha medium speed that relaxes the nervous system.

When I debrief myself I am moving my brain even slower into Theta speed.  “Thinking” about my day is not what I am doing, but rather “feeling” it. I feel grateful for being able to be there for my kids when they need me. Their pain is real and I feel comfort of being with them. Theta is a feeling state. High Beta is a fast thinking state. To offset a day filled with High Beta, I MUST move into Alpha and then Theta to shake it off and be well.

Sleep for Neurointegration.

Sleep is not just sleep. It is neurointegration. When we sleep the nervous system integrates the experiences from the day before. The brain will move into extra slow processing speed to down shift altogether to restore cells and get ready for the next day. Neurointegration is essential for health. That is why it is so important to debrief and then sleep.

Use these three modes in concert to control your brain or your brain will control you.

If you are stuck in survival mode you must get out of it ASAP. Use creative mode to offset your survival mode and if you are really jammed in the mode. Then you need help. Neurofeedback CAN help you get out of survival mode and start healing your nervous system through the use of slower brain speeds. If you don’t know about it and you struggle with Anxiety. Find out about it.

Check out this video where I explain it a bit more.

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