Fear, when harnessed properly, is an incredible survival tool. When you’re scared, your senses are heightened and your adrenaline is flowing. You’re more sensitive to sights and sounds. You’re a little bit stronger and a little bit faster than you may otherwise be, and these are excellent tools to have.
The key is to manage your fear in order to use these tools to your advantage.
Just like every other step to survival, managing your fear is a just a matter of being properly prepared for it. Throughout the following paragraphs, we’re going to discuss ways to defeat your fear when SHTF instead of letting your fear defeat you.
The Downside of Fear
Survival depends almost entirely upon your mental state: it doesn’t matter how much food you have or how good your weapons supply is if you let your fear paralyze you. In a true SHTF scenario, you’re going to be scared; it’s almost a guarantee.
Fear is a natural survival response to a threatening situation, so expect it. The key to survival, though, isn’t going to be who isn’t frightened but rather who manages their fear well enough to think around it.
In addition to the advantages of fear that we mentioned above, unmanaged fear can also cause several undesirable side effects that can get you killed. It’s these side effects that make it imperative for you to prepare yourself to defeat your fear and use it to your advantage. Fear can cause:
- Fight or Flight Response: this is survival 101 for our brain but can be lethal if you let the impulse control you blindly. Running or fighting are going to be your brain’s immediate responses to any extreme threat so be ready to manage this response.
- Paralysis: this is another ingrained response to extreme threat that your brain uses to make you “invisible” to the threat. Freezing up, both physically and mentally, can be prevented, or at least minimized, by good preparedness.
- Automatic Response: reacting blindly without thinking is an extension of fight or flight. You want to act, not react. Again, practicing and preparing for different situations will help re-train your brain to think before you act.
- Tunnel Vision: your brain automatically focuses on the threat to the exclusion of everything else in an attempt to determine the best route to survival. Unfortunately, in a SHTF scenario, there will most likely be numerous threats at once. Training your brain to remain focused on the big picture will save your life.
Now that you know what instinctive responses to expect, let’s talk about some of the tactics that you should use to train your brain to manage your fear.
Have a Plan and Practice It
One of the best ways to retrain your brain to react promptly and efficiently in a SHTF situation is to have a plan and to practice it. Muscle memory can help keep you moving in the right direction even when you’re under extreme mental duress.
This is the reason that military units do drills: when you’re already prepared to react in a certain way in a given situation, fear isn’t as likely to paralyze you.
- Have Specific, Varied Plans of Action. Don’t just plan a general escape route that applies to all situations because every situation is going to be different. Have different escape routes based upon some exits being blocked. Practice defensive drills in case escape is impossible.
- Practice each Plan. You can’t expect your body or your brain to react seamlessly if you don’t actually physically practice each plan. Also, if you don’t practice, you won’t find any glitches in your plans. Practice every plan until it feels automatic and natural to you.
- Include Your Family in the Drills. By doing this, your brain will be assured that they are doing what they’re supposed to be doing and you can focus on doing your part to ensure survival for all of you.
Know Your Environment
Being intimately familiar with your environment will help your brain to process information and map out a new plan should your original plans go awry. Also, knowing your environment will help you plan for weak spots and will also give you an advantage over any threat, because they likely won’t have the knowledge that you do.
- Know every entrance and exit
- Know weak spots such as creaky floor boards, broken elevators, doors that tend to stick, or windy or sun-blind spots that may affect action in the case of attack.
- Know where rivers or creeks may swell, where trees may fall, or which roads may be impassible so that you can quickly evaluate which escape route will be best based upon the SHTF situation.
Knowing your environment will help your brain to function instead of allowing panic to set in.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Simple relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help strengthen your control over your emotions. If you feel panic setting in, a few deep, controlled breaths may mean the difference between life and death. Make this part of your daily lifestyle and when you need them, they’ll be a natural tool that you can use to defeat your fear in a SHTF situation.
Knowledge is power. Learn survival techniques including first aid, herbal therapies, outdoor cooking, natural sources of food and water, weapons training, and local procedures so that you know how to survive in your environment. If you’re already confident that you can survive without all of the modern amenities and that you know what to do in case of any emergency, you’ll be less likely to panic and more likely to defeat your fear in a SHTF scenario.
Being prepared to either bug in or bug out in a SHTF scenario will help you manage your fear. Here are a few tips:
- Have your bug out bags packed and keep them current.
- Keep your vehicles in good repair.
- Keep your weapons clean and at the ready. Teach your family how to safely use them if that’s part of your survival plan.
- Keep your stockpile up and make sure that you’re rotating so that everything stays fresh.
- Keep your home and property in good repair so that your property remains safe and secure in case of natural disasters.
Remain Physically Fit
This is one of the most important steps that you can take to manage your fear. If you know that you’re in good physical shape and can handle the physical stress that either escape or fighting will demand, you’ll be more confident and less likely to panic. Exercise is also a great way to gain mental discipline, which will also help you to defeat your fear in a SHTF situation.
Don’t Wait – Start Now
Now that you have some tools that you can use to help you prepare your brain to remain calm in an emergency, practice them. Just like with your emergency drills, training your brain requires repetition and practice. Survival really is dependent upon remaining calm and ready to evaluate any situation, so take these tips and start using them now so that you can defeat your fear in a SHTF scenario.
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.