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6 Mins
Anxiety
Stress

Are you thriving – or just ‘surviving’?

August 5, 2022
By
ieso

EUDAEMONIA – ‘The condition of human flourishing or living well’ (Aristotle)

When our mental wellbeing is generally OK, we tend not to think too much about it. But paying attention to our minds even when we’re not struggling can make the difference between just ‘getting through life’, and really flourishing.

It’s very easy to find ourselves stuck in survival mode – especially after the challenges of the past couple of years. If we recognise we’re in a bit of a rut, and want to move forward to a life that’s more fulfilling and rewarding, it might be helpful to consider for a moment the differences between surviving and thriving.

Surviving literally means that we’re continuing to exist. When we’re in survival mode our primary focus is on simply staying alive. This might look like doing the bare minimum to get through the day – for example, we might find ourselves on autopilot, there in body but perhaps not in mind.

 

Jo Gray, a CBT therapist with ieso, explains: “When all of our energy and resources are going into surviving, there isn’t much left for the added extras we'd associate with thriving. We might end up staying firmly inside our comfort zone – sticking to what we know, not trying new things – and that makes sense. In our comfort zone there isn’t much uncertainty or danger. We know what to expect – it’s predictable and feels safe. And let’s just acknowledge that there's nothing wrong with spending some time in your comfort zone when life is tough!”

 

When we're thriving or flourishing, on the other hand, we are growing and developing.  By definition this means that we’re moving beyond our comfort zones and into our growth zones; we have the energy and head space to seek out some of those ‘optional extras’ that seemed such a distant prospect when we were in survival mode.

 

Here are some ideas and prompts to help you to think about how you might promote your own flourishing, and take better care of your mind from day to day – not just when you’re experiencing difficulties.

 

Take care of your roots. We can't flourish unless we have some strong and healthy roots in place. These are the basics: things like a balanced diet, sleep and rest, exercise, and spending time outdoors.

  • Think about what you, personally, need in order to have healthy roots.
  • How much rest or sleep do you need to feel refreshed? Are you getting enough? Are there any small tweaks you can make to improve this?
  • Consider what you're putting into your body. Are you getting the nourishment you need? What small steps could you take towards enhancing that a little more?
  • How do you like to move your body? “As well as the more obvious contenders like walking, running and cycling, there are plenty of activities that get our hearts pumping and those endorphins going,” says Jo Gray. “Find what works for you – maybe it's a kitchen disco, yoga, household chores, or a kickabout at the park.”

 

Check your environment. Even the healthiest of roots will struggle if they’re planted in the wrong place! Here you might like to consider your home and work environment, the people you spend time with, and the atmosphere around you.

  • Think about what your ideal conditions might look like.
  • Who are the people who energise you or lift you up?
  • Think about the things that delight your senses. What colours do you enjoy? What fragrances pep you up? What do you like to listen to? How can you bring a little more of these things to your day to day life?
  • Where do you feel most alive? Can you spend more time in those places? “If not,” suggests Jo Gray, “can you bring a little of those places to your usual home or work environment? For example, if the beach is your happy place, you might enjoy a sea soundtrack, or a painting or photo of your favourite beach.”

Identify what ‘flourishing’ looks like for you. Perhaps it’s being creative, trying new things, feeling energised and motivated, or taking time for self-care or hobbies for example.

  • How do you know when you’re flourishing? What does this feel like?
  • What is different in your life when you are thriving?  What are your ‘added extras’?
  • Can you carve out a little time in your week for something that helps you to flourish and thrive?

If you recognise that you're feeling stuck in survival mode – perhaps lacking motivation, not enjoying things you’d usually enjoy, feeling irritable, anxious or low – then online CBT from ieso could help you get back on track. Find out how it works here.

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