How to Get Out of Survival Mode from Childhood Trauma


Childhood trauma can have profound and lasting impacts, often carrying into adulthood and manifesting in various ways. 

These effects, known as the 'survival mode', can be challenging to navigate, but understanding them is the first step towards healing.

This blog aims to provide a comprehensive overview of survival mode, its symptoms, the importance of self-care, and the role professional help plays in recovery. 

By unpacking these complexities, we hope to provide a roadmap for those grappling with the aftermath of childhood trauma, offering reassurance that recovery is not just possible, but within reach. 

Trauma & PTSD Therapists in Colorado

Brenda Hermosillo, SWC

Brenda Hermosillo, SWC

(720) 449-4121
Seth Gibson, LPCC

Seth Gibson, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 203-7021
Kelsey Maestas, LPCC

Kelsey Maestas, LPCC

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Lauren Day, SWC

Lauren Day, SWC

(719) 602-1342
Dominique Schweinhardt, MA, LPCC, LPP

Dominique Schweinhardt, MA, LPCC, LPP

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Seth Boughton, SWC

Seth Boughton, SWC

Aurora, Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Laura Hunt, LPC

Laura Hunt, LPC

(719) 452-4374
Jessica Titone, LPCC

Jessica Titone, LPCC

(720) 437-9089
Felicia Gray, MS, LPC

Felicia Gray, MS, LPC

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Chelsea Bruntmyer, MA, LPCC, NCC

Chelsea Bruntmyer, MA, LPCC, NCC

(719) 696-3439

Understanding Childhood Trauma and Its Impact

Childhood trauma refers to deeply distressing or disturbing experiences that occur during the formative years of a child's life. 

These experiences can range from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse to neglect, household dysfunction, or witnessing violence. 

The impact of such trauma, when left unaddressed, can seep into adulthood, manifesting in various forms like anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and difficulties in forming healthy relationships. 

One such manifestation is the 'survival mode,' a psychological state where an individual constantly feels under threat, leading to heightened stress responses, hyper-vigilance, and difficulty in processing emotions. 

This is a defense mechanism that was beneficial in their traumatic environment but becomes maladaptive when the danger is no longer present. 

Recognizing Signs of Being in Survival Mode

  • Constant Anxiety: This involves persistent feelings of worry and fear. It's a sign that the person is still living with the perceived threat from their past trauma.

  • Difficulty Trusting Others: Childhood trauma often involves betrayal of trust, leading to difficulty in forming secure relationships in adulthood.

  • Always Feeling on Edge: This is characterized by a state of hyper-vigilance, where the person is always alert and prepared for danger, even in safe environments.

  • Emotional Numbness: Some people in survival mode may disconnect from their emotions as a way to protect themselves from further pain or distress.

  • Impulsive Behavior: This may manifest as risky behavior or a lack of self-control, stemming from the need to immediately respond to perceived threats.

  • Difficulty with Intimacy: Childhood trauma can make it challenging for individuals to form close, intimate relationships due to fear of vulnerability.

  • Frequent Nightmares or Flashbacks: These are signs of unresolved trauma, indicating that the person is still mentally stuck in their traumatic past.

  • Physical Symptoms: Chronic stress can lead to physical ailments such as headaches, stomach problems, and fatigue.

Remember, these signs can vary greatly from person to person, and professional help should be sought if you suspect you or someone else is dealing with unresolved childhood trauma. 

Acceptance and Acknowledgement

Acceptance and acknowledgment play pivotal roles in the healing journey from childhood trauma. 

Acknowledging past trauma means recognizing and validating the pain and suffering experienced, rather than suppressing or minimizing it. 

This is a crucial first step as it brings the issue to light, making it tangible and therefore something that can be addressed. 

On the other hand, acceptance doesn't mean condoning what happened or dismissing its impact. 

Rather, it involves understanding that the past cannot be changed and releasing the hold it has on the present. 

It's about accepting the reality of the trauma, its effects, and allowing oneself to move forward. 

Together, acknowledgment and acceptance create a solid foundation for recovery, allowing for further therapeutic work to take place and facilitating the transition out of survival mode.

Seeking Professional Help

Therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists play a critical role in the journey toward healing from childhood trauma. 

They're trained professionals who can provide a safe space to explore past experiences, understand their impact, and develop effective coping strategies. Different therapy options are available, each tailored to individual needs. 

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), for instance, helps individuals understand and change thought patterns that lead to harmful behaviors or feelings.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is another approach specifically designed to help people recover from traumatic events. It's important to remember that seeking professional help is a sign of strength, not weakness. 

If you're struggling with symptoms of survival mode, consider reaching out to our specialists at Overcomers Counseling

We offer a compassionate and supportive environment to help you navigate your healing journey. 

Self-Care as a Vital Part of Recovery

Self-care is the deliberate act of taking care of one's physical, emotional, and mental health. It's a vital part of recovery as it promotes well-being, reduces stress, and helps manage symptoms associated with survival mode.

Tips for incorporating self-care into your routine:

  • Prioritize it: Make self-care non-negotiable. Schedule time for it just like any other important activity.

  • Start Small: Incorporate small acts of self-care into your day, like a five-minute meditation or a short walk.

  • Listen to Your Needs: Self-care isn't one-size-fits-all. Tune into what your body and mind need in the moment.

Examples of self-care activities:

  • Physical Activity: Regular exercise can help reduce anxiety and improve mood.

  • Mindfulness Practices: Meditating, journaling, or practicing yoga can help ground you in the present moment.

  • Healthy Eating: Nourishing your body with balanced meals can boost your overall well-being.

  • Connecting with Others: Spending time with supportive friends or family, or connecting with a support group, can provide emotional relief.

  • Rest: Prioritizing sleep and relaxation can help your body and mind recover and heal.

Remember, self-care is a personal journey. What works for one may not work for another. Find what suits you best and make it a regular part of your routine. 


In conclusion, acknowledging past trauma and accepting its existence is the first step toward healing. Incorporating self-care into your daily routine plays a vital role in your recovery, promoting overall well-being and helping manage symptoms associated with survival mode. 

Seeking professional help, like therapists or psychologists, can provide a safe space to explore past experiences and develop effective coping strategies. 

Therapy options like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or EMDR can be tailored to individual needs.

Remember, it's okay to seek help. You're not alone in this journey, and it's important to remember that healing is possible, even from the deepest wounds of childhood trauma. 

Reach out to resources like Overcomers Counseling, and don't hesitate to lean on supportive friends, family, or support groups.

Continue educating yourself about trauma and its impacts. Your strength and resilience can carry you through this challenging journey toward healing and wholeness. 

Stay Informed

When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.

How to Overcome Complex Trauma in Adults
How to Heal from Emotional Trauma

Related Posts



No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
December 3rd, 2023

overcomers counseling logo

Many of us are often faced with struggles and hardships and finding help can be difficult. However, at Overcomers Counseling, we are here to help you in your time of need. We are passionate about people and we believe that ANYONE can be an overcomer if they are willing to pursue it.  Don't let another day go by without getting the help you desire.

(719) 345-2424 office
(855) 719-2549 fax
5585 Erindale Dr. Ste 204 Colorado Springs, CO 80918 mailing

Support Team Hours

 Sunday   Closed
 Monday   8:00am - 5:00pm
 Tuesday   8:00am - 5:00pm
 Wednesday    8:00am - 5:00pm
 Thursday   8:00am - 5:00pm
 Friday   8:00am - 5:00pm
 Saturday  Closed