survival energy

Navigating the World Of Sensitivity: Activating Survival Energy Vs. Tranquility

Sharing is caring

As an empath, sensitive person, or someone with complex trauma, it’s important to understand the diverse range of trauma triggers and activities that can activate survival energies.  Things like trauma, prolonged grief, or even burnout can cause our brains to opt into booting in this way – it’s basically our brain entering survival mode.

Equally important is adopting strategies to soothe your nervous system and cultivate a more balanced and resilient mental state.

In this article, we’ll explore some lesser-known triggers and delve into practices that can promote healing and well-being for sensitive souls.

Triggers for C-PTSD and Highly Sensitive Nervous Systems

Survival energy activation occurs when an individual encounters stimuli that subconsciously evoke memories of a previous traumatic or emotionally distressing event. This is commonly known as C-PTSD, which describes trauma that has been experienced over a long period of time. When something reminds a person of a past difficult experience, it sets off a mental pattern called a schema. To cope with the intense emotional pain that follows, a defense mechanism, known as a mode, kicks in to protect them.

Triggers can also happen to someone who is highly sensitive (HSP), which is a person who possesses heightened or more profound sensitivity in their central nervous system, responding to physical, emotional, or social stimuli. This heightened sensitivity is also sometimes referred to as sensory processing sensitivity, abbreviated as SPS.  While some individuals develop a highly sensitive nervous system as a trauma response, others are simply born that way.  It’s also entirely possible for someone to be born highly sensitive, and then become more so as a result of traumatic experiences.

Neither of these conditions is something that the affected person has control of. In other words, they can’t simply shut off their triggers or sensitivities. Following are common examples of triggering events to be aware of that can cause either individual’s survival activations to kick in.

1 – Single Parenthood Struggles

Being a single parent can be an overwhelming experience, juggling numerous responsibilities to maintain a stable household while handling financial burdens. The chronic stress of managing these demands, often without adequate support, can contribute to the development of C-PTSD and nervous system burnout.

2 – Repetitive Court Battles

Enduring prolonged legal battles, especially when facing a toxic ex-partner with considerable resources, can be emotionally and psychologically draining. The ongoing stress of navigating courtrooms and legal proceedings can exacerbate trauma symptoms.

3 – Religious Trauma

Years of attending a church where shame and judgment prevail, coupled with weekly reminders of one’s apparent “inherent sinfulness”, can lead to profound religious trauma. This form of trauma often stems from spiritual environments that are more punitive than nurturing.

I have personally experienced religious trauma.  In turn, I left organized religion later in life and found other ways to connect with God, such as through Earth-based spiritualism.

4 – High-Energy Careers

Staying employed in a demanding, high-energy career solely for financial reasons can take a toll on your nervous system. The relentless pressure and stress associated with such professions can contribute to the development or exacerbation of C-PTSD symptoms.  This can be made worse if you have a toxic or cruel boss who wields their authority over you, making you feel insecure and always on the trailing edge of being let go.

Reassess your priorities and explore alternative career paths that align with your values and well-being. Establishing a work-life balance, setting boundaries, and incorporating stress-reducing activities into your routine can help mitigate the impact of a high-energy career.  Exploring remote work opportunities could help in this regard.

5 – Mind Assaulting Activities

Engaging in activities that assault the subconscious mind and nervous system, such as consuming distressing news, doom scrolling on social media, or obsessively monitoring a toxic ex-partner online, can contribute to survival energy activation, heightened anxiety, and exacerbate C-PTSD symptoms.

Practice media mindfulness by limiting exposure to negative content. Set boundaries for social media use and prioritize activities that nourish your mind and spirit. Cultivate awareness of your triggers and consciously choose to disengage from activities that contribute to mental distress.

Soothing the Psyche and Nervous System

Beyond identifying stressors lies the opportunity to cultivate practices that soothe the psyche and nervous system.

Here are some common ways to soothe the nervous system, whether you’re an empath, a highly sensitive person, and/or have complex trauma.

1 – Nature Walks

Immerse yourself in the healing power of nature. Taking regular walks in natural surroundings has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and promote overall well-being. Nature acts as a sanctuary for calming the nervous system and fostering a sense of connection with the world.

2 – News Detox

Constant exposure to distressing news can contribute to heightened anxiety and stress. Consider taking breaks from news consumption, especially during challenging times. Stay informed, but set limits on exposure to maintain a healthy mental state.

3 – Cutting Ties with Toxic Exes

Break the cycle of emotional turmoil by disengaging from toxic relationships. Resist the urge to monitor or stay connected with a harmful ex-partner online. Establish clear boundaries to protect your emotional well-being and foster a sense of liberation.

4 – Educational Reading Choices

Consciously choose reading material that empowers and educates rather than triggers distress. Avoid literature that delves into abusive dynamics and toxic relationships.  If you are just learning about the concept of narcissistic or emotional abuse, then educating yourself is crucial, but be mindful that when the time comes that you are no longer learning anything new, it’s a good time to integrate what you’ve learned as opposed to further consuming this type of material.  This is because continuing to read material about narcissism keeps the trauma bond alive and active, and deepens the biochemical addictions we form in the context of toxic relationships.

Instead focus on self-help books, inspirational stories, or subjects that ignite personal growth.  There may be some withdrawal symptoms as you wean yourself off of material about narcissism and toxic relationships.  Therefore, just as with any addiction, we have to ride it through until we reach the other side.

5 – Non-triggering Shopping Practices

Simplify your life by opting for grocery and staple deliveries instead of physically going shopping. This reduces unnecessary stressors, allowing you to allocate time and energy to more fulfilling activities. Embrace the convenience of modern services to enhance your overall well-being.

Rituals and Ceremony

As we explore practices that soothe the psyche and nervous system, integrating Earth Magic rituals becomes a profound addition to this soulful journey.  These practices have proven especially helpful for those who identify as an Empath, HSP, and a percentage of individuals affected with C-PTSD.

Earth Magic, deeply rooted in the connection between individuals and the natural world, provides a powerful avenue for healing, renewal, and protection. Let’s explore how incorporating Earth Magic rituals can elevate the art of self-care, fostering a harmonious balance between mind, body, and spirit.  Earth Magic rituals amplify the healing potential, encouraging the release of negative energy and the renewal of one’s spirit. These ceremonies act as a powerful catalyst for survivors of emotional abuse to let go of pain and trauma, forging a path towards soul healing. Here are some Earth Magic rituals that can be seamlessly integrated into your self-care practices:

1 – Create a Sacred Space

Establishing a personal sanctuary becomes a foundational step, intertwining the physical and metaphysical realms. Whether nestled in your garden or within the confines of your home, this sacred space becomes a haven for connecting with nature and performing Earth Magic rituals. Much more than a mere physical location, it stands as a tangible representation of your inner world—a place where solace, healing, and renewal intertwine.

Consider cultivating a small garden, adorned with herbs and flowers chosen for their healing and protective properties. Alternatively, create a cozy corner indoors, adorned with natural elements such as stones, crystals, shells, or feathers. These items serve as Earth Magic symbols, linking your sacred space to the profound energies of the natural world.

Spend meaningful time in this sanctuary, engaging in meditation, prayer, or intentional rituals. It becomes more than just a physical retreat; it evolves into your refuge, a space for releasing negative energy, protecting your spirit, and immersing yourself in the transformative magic of the Earth.

2- Candle Lighting

Light a candle with a clear intention for healing. Allow the flame to illuminate not only the physical space but also the recesses of your soul, guiding you towards a profound release of negativity.

3 – Full Moon Ceremonies

Harness the energy of the full moon to initiate a release of emotional baggage and set new intentions. Bask in the ethereal glow, embracing the lunar cycle’s rhythm as a companion on your journey towards emotional renewal.

4 – Nature Altars

Create altars in your home or in natural settings, adorned with symbols as a gesture of gratitude and connection to the Earth. This practice fosters a deep sense of appreciation for the interconnectedness of all living things.

By infusing Earth Magic rituals into your self-care routine, you embark on a holistic journey of healing and renewal, forging a profound soul connection with the Earth’s transformative energies. These rituals, coupled with other soothing practices, create a toolbox of resilience and balance in the face of life’s challenges.


Living with sensitivity and navigating the complexities of C-PTSD requires a multifaceted approach. Recognizing the diverse triggers, such as single parenthood struggles, prolonged legal battles, religious trauma, high-energy careers, and mind-assaulting activities, is the first step toward healing.

Whether you’re currently deep in survival mode or just bracing for it, showing yourself some kindness and learning to regulate your emotions can make a big difference. It’s never too late to kickstart some self-care. But here’s the cool part: making self-care a regular thing in your life and making plans to keep yourself well can not only help you handle survival mode better but help prevent it as well.

If you’re highly sensitive and in need of finding way to alleviate the overwhelm and stress, The Highly Sensitive Person Workbook can help.  We will cover the Highly Sensitive Person and identify the 4 common qualities of HSPs (depth of processing, overstimulation, emotional intensity, and sensitivity to subtlety). We then dive into each of the 4 common qualities to better understand the unique challenges for HSPs as well as the many gifts. Identifying coping skills is a predominant theme throughout the workbook + so much more!

Sharing is caring

Leave a Comment: