survivalmodeWe’ve all been there. The deadline’s fast approaching. Someone’s expecting you to deliver. You’ve heard the dreaded words ‘we have to talk’…Whatever your triggers are, we’re pretty sure you’ve been in survival mode, just like us–that state where you become nothing but a machine, an animal, reacting on programming or instinct. Maayan and Lauren have very different survival mode triggers, and very different behaviors when they switch into this fight-or-flight state–but they both are happy to (let’s be honest) overshare exactly how it happens for them and how they deal with it.


Listen to This: Surviving Survival Mode


First, a little primer from Harvard Medical School for you on what happens to your body and mind when you go into the fight-or-flight response, and how much Americans suffer from stress.

The take homes that struck us were this:

  • 25% of Americans experience high levels of stress (rating their stress level as 8 or more on a 10-point scale)
  •  50% report moderate levels of stress (a score of 4 to 7)

As the folks at Harvard put it,

“This combination of reactions to stress is known as the “fight-or-flight” response because it evolved as a survival mechanism, enabling people and other mammals to react quickly to life-threatening situations. The carefully orchestrated yet near-instantaneous sequence of hormonal changes and physiological responses helps someone to fight the threat off or flee to safety. Unfortunately, the body can also overreact to stressors that are not life-threatening, such as traffic jams, work pressure, and family difficulties.” (That emphasis was ours, btw).

So, as Maayan explained in the podcast, we’re all still reacting like cavemen that are running away from a tiger, except there’s no tiger and it’s really just a marketing presentation that you have to give tomorrow at 8 AM that you haven’t started yet. Your frontal lobe knows that it’s just a Powerpoint presentation, but your hindbrain is all, ‘HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS THAT MARKETING PRESENTATION IS LITERALLY GOING TO TEAR INTO OUR JUGULAR AND AND FEAST ON OUR INNARDS.”  And thus, survival mode begins!


For Maayan, it’s deadlines that shoot her into this state…thanks to the fact that she procrastinates the shit out of things.  Admittedly, she almost uses that procrastination to GET her into that machine-like state so she can focus and get things done. An unhealthy tool but…effective?  By the way,  if you haven’t read Wait But Why’s absolutely brilliant post on procrastination, do so now.  Or, you know…tomorrow 😉



For Lauren, it’s more social situations that get her into a panicked state.  Confrontations, specifically.  She’ll do anything to get out of them altogether, or as quickly as possible–meaning many things don’t get resolved, or she fails to speak her mind.  This is also very packaged in with the whole people pleasing habit she has.

Besides the ickiness of a pounding heart rate and sweaty palms, Maayan and Lauren each have their own psychotic quirks that manifest when they go into survival mode.  Maayan scratches herself (“It doesn’t leave a scar every time”, she reassures us).  Lauren picks at everything…her dry split ends, her chapped lips, hangnails, you name it.  We’re not proud of our coping mechanisms, but we’re all about honesty here. And let’s face it, we’ve already revealed how NUTS we are to you guys already.

Moving on.



Lauren has a rave about, of all things, Poison Control. After sitting blithely in some pesticide-treated grass for a good 20 minutes before discovering that there were little ‘do not enter’ signs all around her, Lauren had good cause to call this service.  She was INSTANTLY answered by a calm, knowledgeable woman who did not rush her through the conversation in the slightest and walked her kindly through the right steps  (shower, lather, rinse for 15 minutes, lather again, and rinse).  Every other emergency-ish call she’s ever made pales in comparison to the Poison Control lady.  9-1-1, the on-call nurse at the OBGYN and pediatrician, the police office….All unhelpful knuckleheads in comparison. More on that here


Maayan is ranting about people who fail to give an adequate response or reply to a deep or philosophical comment.  Really, folks, it’s common courtesy FIRST OF ALL.  And secondly, are your brains really so barren and dull that you have nothing, not a thing, to say in response?  Even an insipid “hmm how interesting” is better than a blank stare. More on that here.