STRESS - Survival or Creation: Which Mode Will You Choose Today?

Can we live in survival and creation at the same time?
When you open your eyes in the morning what is the first emotion you experience?  For many people it is stress, in the form of to do lists, worries, and the endless feeds on our phones.  In this moment your conscious mind and body connect.  They set off a chain of chemical reactions that inform your day. In The Stress and Creation Series we will breakdown the mechanics of how our minds and bodies interact, when we are awake and asleep.

If we simplify the 70,000 thoughts an average person has a day, they divide into two categories, survival and creation.  Survival keeps us alive and creation allows us to make something of our lives.  They are designed to balance one another.  When Maslow set out the hierarchy of needs, survival forms the base of the pyramid.  It is the foundation of the human experience.  But if this survival dominates our daily existence it will have profound effects on our bodies, our emotional health, and our ability to create a desirable future. 

But isn’t that what being an adult is all about, being stressed?  We are told it is a part of life…it builds character, and makes us better people.  That is a half truth that neurologically makes very little sense.  We are designed for acute stress, but sustained stress can be prevent us from fully realizing our potential.  Let’s look at how the body is designed to deal with stress. 

When we encounter a threat, like when we argue with our boss or a lunatic driver on the highway, our body releases chemicals like cortisol which heighten our senses.  We are immediately tuned to the conditions around us.  Our pupils dilate, our heart rate increases, blood rushes to our limbs, our appetite is suppressed and we are ready to survive. 

It the same instinct that a mouse experiences when it is chased by a cat.  The difference between us and the mouse is that once the mouse makes it to safety, they deal with it differently.  They enter into a period where their nervous system forces them to literally shake.  This releases the excess stress hormones in the body and allows them to go back to a normal, homeostatic state of rest. 

However, after arguing with the boss, many of us hold that stress.  We are angry, indignant, sad, and run the experience back over in our head reinforcing the experience.  It burns an imprint of the period of stress and instead of releasing the stress, we carry it in our bodies.  All unreleased stress is stored somewhere in the body.  Unlike our friend the mouse, our frontal lobe of our brain is much larger.  We can relive the stress through thought alone, and how many times have you done that?

Once an acute stress transitions into a memorized stress, we create an emotional state based off of a past experience that informs our future.  At this point, we enter into a lower level of sustained stress that the human body was never designed to deal with. 

Think of it like putting something in the trash bin of your laptop…it is not exactly deleted, we have simply stored it in a different place.  If we continue to fill the trash bin, this accumulated stress creates a state where our bodies become addicted to the chemicals of stress and our minds become wired to continue thinking the stress inducing thoughts. Our biology, neural circuitry, chemistry, hormones, physiology and genetic expression will be stuck in stress and affect how we think, feel and act.

With a full trash bin, it becomes very difficult to move into a state of creation.  In Maslow’s terms, while we are in survival we can never multi-task.  Our bodies and minds cannot move up the chain to deal with higher level problems.  This leaves people feeling unfulfilled, without ever knowing why.  They just feel “off.”  But for all of the many abilities of the human mind, our mind can live in either survival or creation…not both. 

In our next article we will look at the advantages of living in creation versus survival and what that means inside of our bodies.


For over 20 years Stacy Berman has been teaching people how to get in shape, eat healthy and create balance. Her extensive training in Tae Kwon Doe, Capoeira, kickboxing and bootcamp drills have led her to a deep understanding of the body and its movements. As a student of the world, she has learned to combine an intense physical practice with movement meditation for an elevated state of health.

Soon after her creating Stacy's Boot Camp, the first boot camp in NYC, Stacy realized food was the foundation for creating a sound mind in a sound body. She threw herself into nutrition with a passion,  became a certified nutrition specialist and worked with thousands of busy New Yorkers to figure out what worked and what didn’t. With feet on the ground practice Stacy created The System by Stacy Berman to help herself, her clients, and the world at large achieve a higher, more meaningful level of health and fitness.

Since creating The System, Stacy has gone on to receive a PhD in Natural Medicine and is presently writing a book Love Yourself Naked: The Science of Self Perception, Spirituality and Weight Loss that combines over twenty years in the health and fitness industries with scientific research to reveal how our thoughts affect the way we feel. Stacy is truly a forerunner in the mind - body holistic health movement with tens of thousands of hours of real life experience.