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Living in survival mode was a lifestyle choice I decided to leave in 2023. The New Year always sparks deep reflection on how I lived my life the previous year and what I can improve. Therapy and lots of inner work showed me the importance of fine-tuning my actions, routines, thought processes, and more to ensure it is beneficial to my development. When I look back on 2023, I see that I spent most of it in survival mode. I was flown out to cover two of the biggest blockbuster films of the year, interviewed many A-list celebrities, and attended fun and exclusive events that were beyond memorable. Despite that, I also battled with an overwhelming sense of depression and anxiety that left me crippled for more than half of the year.

I smiled through it all.

Reflecting on all I’ve accomplished in 2023, I realized I did what I had to do to get by. Through therapy, I learned that survival mode represents the behaviors I used as a child to make it through the moment. For example, a child who didn’t get much attention from their parents may have resorted to people-pleasing for their attention. As an adult, they might use the same tactics to gain attention, but they don’t have to. I had to adjust my mindset to understand I no longer had to operate from a space of survival.

I decided that in 2024, I would make distinct changes to my daily routine to make sure I’m giving myself optimal care. Black woman have normalized being everything for everyone, using the residual energy for themselves. My goal for this year is to thrive. I want to be everything to myself first, and share what’s left over with the world.

5 Habits To Shift You From Survival Mode To Thriving

When I turned 40 last year, I had many “I thought I’d have this by now” moments. I thought I’d be married with children, making six figures, living the homeowner life, and so much more. I had to realize that life doesn’t end at 40. In fact, it feels like it’s now beginning. When a person experiences true peace and clarity, they can thrive in various parts of their life. Making small changes to your daily routine will create a supportive atmosphere to help you become who you are meant to be. The first habit I had to shift was my mindset.

1. Mindset

Yoga mindfulness meditation. Young healthy african girl practicing yoga at home. Woman sitting in lotus pose on couch meditating smiling relaxing indoor. Girl doing breathing practice. Yoga at home. shift from survival mode

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Shifting the mindset is the most challenging task on the list. But once it’s achieved, the outcome can feel euphoric. I have to actively release the need to control the direction of my life. My only job is to show up to everything authentically and believe great things will happen. If my mindset is focused on survival, I can miss the opportunity to thrive by simply showing up and being myself.

2. Trade in TV time for books

young african american woman sitting on a sofa reading a book attentively

Source: Raul Llopis Martin / Getty

You are already ahead of the game if you’re an avid book reader. My days are consumed with words, so reading was never my preference. My older brother suggested a book for me to read last summer, and I have yet to make it past the 3rd chapter. That said, I decided to dedicate 1 hour a day to reading or pouring into my personal goals. I associated sitting in front of the TV with relaxation, but it didn’t feel good to me. I wasn’t watching anything that enriched my life, and I knew I should invest the time elsewhere.

3. Move the body

Happy african american chubby woman in sportswear jumping on jump rope, isolated on pink studio background, full length. survival mode

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Working from home enabled lots of poor habits. I wake up and go straight to the couch to begin my work day. With Netflix playing in the background, I’d answer emails, write and edit articles, and conduct interviews. By the time the workday ends, I have no desire to go outside and be active. I’d order food to avoid cooking a meal in the middle of the day, which became expensive! I had every excuse in the book for why this routine worked for me. Still, the truth is it contributed to my depression—and as someone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, the winter seasons made this an appealing routine. I decided it was time to join the gym. I had to get my body moving instead of wasting idle time in front of the TV. I took it a step further and made my gym time before work. Sunshine is vital for me during the winter, so walking to the gym when the sun is out motivates me more than going when its dark.

4. Be unapologetically authentic

Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2024

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Every now and then, I’ll encounter someone open about not liking me as a person. It used to annoy me initially because I believe I am friendly and likable. I later realized my job isn’t to be likable; my only task is to show up and be authentic. How anyone reacts to my authentic being is a reflection of them. And how I react to others is a reflection of me. If your light triggers someone else, are you supposed to stop shining?

It helped me understand that authenticity coupled with the right mindset is a winning formula for thriving instead of surviving. When you aim to be likable, it’s rooted in survival. When you aspire to be authentic, it’s rooted in freedom.

5. Find an outlet

Female psychologist talking with teenage boy in her office. shift from survival mode

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I can thank therapy for carrying my mental health through 2023. While I adopted other practices that helped me hold things together, it was beneficial to have an impartial professional remind me to be gentle and kinder to myself – something I thought I was doing. Through therapy, I was able to identify negative behaviors that hindered my growth, specifically putting enormous pressure on myself to achieve goals. My worth isn’t attached to whether or not I crossed a task off my list. I held myself to a dangerously high standard, and it took months of therapy for me to realize it. Hell, I still have my moments, but then I refocus. Whether your outlet is therapy, journaling, or meditation, find a way to release the stories we tell ourselves.

Like everyone else in the world, I am a work in progress. Adjusting my daily routine by incorporating these habits can dramatically shift the trajectory of my life. It begins when we demand more from life and recognize we have the power to change it. It starts from within. Have you been operating in survival mode?


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5 Habits To Shift You From Survival Mode To Thriving  was originally published on