Survival Skills | The Psychology of Staying Alive

Survival Skills Staying Alive feature

Survival is not all about knowledge and skills; it is also about having the right mindset. Anyone who considers himself or herself a survivalist or prepper would probably have an idea as to how dangerous and stressful a survival situation can become.

Ways to Keep Calm in a Crisis

With that in mind, it is critical to stay focused and remain calm. There is no room for fear, doubt, or any of the counterproductive emotions that we all go through. Your main goal should be to come out of the scenario safe and sound.

We really have no idea who will be facing SHTF situations at a certain place or time. It is a fact that accidents and disasters can happen anywhere and anytime.

We may not be able to predict or determine who will make it through these scenarios, but if you are involved and still keep a clear and focused mind, you increase your chance of surviving.

Here are some ways to stay focused and relaxed in the face of life-threatening situations.

1. Assessment

The first thing to be done is to assess your actual situation. This must be done pretty much without regard for whatever it is that has caused the SHTF.

To use an often-quoted saying; “It is what it is”. Regardless of what you were doing when the SHTF, you have now been forced into a state of flux.

Survival Skills Staying Alive

An immediate and accurate, critical assessment of your situation will be the best tool you have at your disposal to ensure survival.

As you make observations, you will begin to develop a picture of your surroundings. Use this mental picture to help you establish the facts.

2. Will Power

A key ingredient in any survival situation is the mental attitude of the individual(s) involved. Having survival skills is important; having the will to survive is essential.

Without a desire to survive, acquired skills serve little purpose and invaluable knowledge goes to waste.

3. Practice

If you want the best chance of remaining calm in an emergency situation, practice what you would do if an emergency should occur. Run drills with your family and enact different scenarios each time.

What would you do if you were trapped in the basement after a tornado? What would you do if there were a flood rushing your way?

How would you react if you were trapped in your home and a family member was injured or ill? By practicing different drills, you’ll be better prepared should the situation occur.

4. Whatever you do, DON’T BREAK DOWN.

I know this may sound silly, but not having a mental breakdown is what kept my friends and I levelheaded in our experience.

It is important to stay calm and not let emotion get the best of you. Crying and panicking will only cause more hysteria. The best way to think before you feel the anxiety approaching is, “this could be worse.”

5. Do your very best to control your fears.

Be realistic. Don't let your imagination make mountains out of molehills. Expect fear and learn to recognize it. Live with fear and understand how it can alter your effectiveness in survival situations.

Don't be ashamed of any fears you may have. Control fear, don't let it control you. Fears can be lessened by keeping the body busy and free from thirst, hunger, pain, discomfort, and any other enemies to survival.

Survival Skills Staying Alive

Learning basic outdoor and first aid skills may help you prevent or ease fears by increasing your confidence in yourself.

If fear creeps up on you, make sure to think of positive things. Maintain your positive mental attitude. Read the whole article here.

6. Stay Positive

Challenge your negative thinking with positive statements and realistic thinking. When encountering thoughts that make you fearful or depressed, challenge those thoughts by asking yourself questions that will maintain objectivity and common sense.

Survival Skills Staying Alive

If it helps, carry a small notebook in your pocket that contains positive statements. When you get anxious, take out your pocket notebook and read a few lines to make you feel better.

7. Laughing and Playfulness Improve Efficiency

Playful humor enhances survival for many reasons. Mental efficiency is directly related to a person’s level of emotional arousal. At high levels of arousal, a person makes mistakes.

He or she reacts too fast, panics, and may act in dysfunctional ways. (The exception is for an action requiring simple, powerful, muscular effort. High arousal can create super-human strength.)

When a person is highly emotional, he or she is less able to solve problems and make precise, coordinated movements. Laughing reduces tension to more moderate levels and efficiency improves.

Playing with a situation makes a person more powerful than sheer willpower. The person who toys with the situation creates an inner feeling of, “This is my plaything; I am bigger than it. I can toy with it as I wish. I won’t let it scare me. Not only that, but I’m going to have fun with this.”

Another advantage of playful humor is that it redefines the situation emotionally. The person who makes humorous observations is relaxed, alert, and focused outward toward the situation to be dealt with. A benefit of playful humor is that it leads to the discovery of creative solutions.

8. Captain your own ship.

You are the captain of your own life. You are responsible for taking control of your life and what happens in it. If you do not have this attitude, it is easy to fall into the victim mode of blaming others or outside circumstances.

This sometimes seems like an easy way out, but in a survival situation, it can severely compromise your chances of surviving. So use survival psychology to your advantage and take control. It will be very liberating.

However, if you are in a group, this does not mean dominating others. It means being a responsible and helpful team player.

9. Get Moving

Don’t sit still and let the fear take over your body. Instead, get moving and shake it off. The flow of oxygen and the rising of your heart rate can help give you the boost of energy and adrenaline necessary to navigate your way through a crisis.

Exercise also gives your body the natural high of endorphins, and while an incoming flood might not be reason enough to start doing jumping jacks, moving into action quickly to secure what you can to higher grounds, packing up your 72-hour supply of food and water, and making sure your first aid kit is on hand are always to get your legs going and kick your blood flow into high gear.

10. Remind Yourself What Is at Stake

Remember, failure to prepare yourself psychologically to cope with survival leads to reactions such as depression, carelessness, inattention, loss of confidence, poor decision-making, and giving up before the body gives in.

At stake is your life and the lives of others who are depending on you to do your share. Click here to read more.

11. Prepare For Emergency Survival

The best way to remain calm in an emergency is to prepare for one. While the steps above are great ways to handle a situation when it happens, nothing can replace the peace of mind of being prepared.

When you are prepared, you have all the tools you need in an emergency kit. You've discussed exit strategies with your family.

Survival Skills Staying Alive

You've agreed on a place to meet in case of an emergency. Most importantly, being prepared means you have extra supplies, like medical and food supplies, on hand if you need them.

Want to know more? Check out these related articles:

For more awesome SHTF survival items you can’t make at home, check out the Survival Life Store!

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 4, 2015, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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