If you’ve ever lost your cool in a challenging or stressful situation, you’re likely going to resonate with what we’re covering today. It’s all about learning how to keep yourself calm when you’re faced with a difficult situation. In psychology, they call this reaction your fight-or-flight syndrome, but I can also tell you that it’s draining to be on edge for several days and weeks at a time. It dulls our thinking, and causes us to react to changing circumstances with moves, that in hindsight, may not have been the best to make.
What you need to do is learn how to stay calm, overcoming your most primitive instincts that might be telling you to run. Or to fight. And to use a level-headed approach that’ll ensure you and your family are well equipped against whatever you are facing.
Sort your contingencies
For me, the biggest factor that gives me relief is knowing that everything is probably going to be alright, even if a disaster hits. Over the last few years we’ve gone completely off-grid, and we’re more self-sufficient than ever. When I look at the causes of my stress in the SHTF events that I’ve personally lived through, where the most stress came into play was in the simple things. Not knowing where the next meal would come from. Not having adequate shelter or protection from the elements. Not having a proper evacuation plan to execute on. Not having a bug out bag ready to go. It does make a difference.
Once you’ve sorted your contingency planning, it almost feels like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. And while I doubt I will ever have my plans fully completed to my liking, they cover more than enough that I know we are well prepared for whatever comes.
Put in the effort
And by this, I mean training. The more you can teach yourself the skills you need to survive now, the less freaked out that you’ll be when you need to put yourself to the test. This counts for everything from hunting to fishing to fighting, self-defense and more. I’ve made it a habit to try and either learn a new survival skill every weekend, or get in some practice on something that I know I struggle with. This means trips to the range, but also working on skills like archer, primitive fire making and shelters, and even my boxing skills.
There’s a lot to be said about muscle memory when it comes to getting a job done. You probably already have things in your life that you can do lightning fast. The trick, is to consistently put in the effort to hone and develop these skills, so you can count on them.
Get your head on straight
This one is part situational awareness, but also coming to terms internally with the tough decisions you may need to make. I can’t imagine telling you what are the right or wrong things to do when a crisis hits, that’s for you to decide. But I want you to start preparing yourself now. Look at the situations you find yourself in, and come to terms with what might need to be done. The guy hanging out on the street corner, would you hit first? The criminal who draws a gun, what would it take for you to fire back?
Instinctively, we humans have a very strong flight or fight response, but in my experience, I’d say the vast majority of us freeze in a bad situation. And that’s not good. You need to your head on straight and be willing to do what needs to be done, in order to survive.
Do real-life drills
Overcoming this freeze response with real-life scenario drills is a great exercise, one that is a fun way to get your family involved in your survival planning. Everything from living off the land with just a backpack for a few days, to active shooter drills or emergency evacuations trains them on the right actions to take when there’s a real crisis. The more familiar you can all get under these high-pressure practice situations, the better. Because it’s experience, and that experience could make all the difference in your survival.
Think about all the different drills that you could run. We’ve done impromptu runs to our bug out location with a two-minute timer, and while it was slow at first, over time we’ve gotten much better, and I’m much more confident in our ability to react without panic.
Find your own outlet
Finally, and this one is important. You need to have a creative outlet that helps bring you down when you’re all wired up. My best buddy will sit for hours strumming away on his guitar, while I tend to lose myself for hours on the water. Peacefully fishing gives me a sense of calm I have yet to find anywhere else. Perhaps it’s something artistic or creative, or it might be a physical sport like running or swimming. You need an outlet for the accumulated stress that comes in a crisis, otherwise it’ll build up and quickly overwhelm you.
Think about the activities that you enjoy doing, and make sure that you’re making the time for yourself too. It can be hard to think about this when there’s more pressing demands on your role as a provider, but stepping back and getting a little perspective really helps.
When most people think about survival it’s guns, food and a fortified bug out location that you protect till your dying breath. But in reality, it’s going to be far more boring, and far more stressful. You’ve got it within you, to stay cool, calm and collected when everyone around you is in a panic. By taking these steps today, and learning how you can stay calm in a crisis, you’ll be able to step up and be the leader you want to be once the SHTF.