It is firmly planted in our minds that a crisis scenario requires knives, EDC bags, lighters, fire-starters, waterproof matches, binoculars, compasses and so many others gear items. While these can prove helpful, and in some situations even essential, without a doubt, more and more people pay attention to the most important element for surviving: themselves.
Disaster situations are undoubtfully more manageable when one has a trained mind and a trained body for that specific circumstance.
Often, sophisticated gear is simply not available or, even worse, simply useless and a person’s ability to understand and execute upon his or hers exact physiological and psychological status is crucial.
Maintaining Good Health
Did you know that the skin is the largest organ of the body, and that your skin is one way that you can check your health even if you don’t have any medical equipment available?
For example, dark patches or yellow waxy bumps could mean that you are developing diabetes. If your skin becomes pale or dull then nutritional deficiencies may be to blame. Medical help is not always an option so monitoring your skin can help you avoid problems and maintain good health in any setting or situation.
What would you do if there was a serious medical problem and you were on your own, without any doctors or emergency rooms to turn to for help? Do you have enough knowledge about first aid and natural healing methods to make a difference?
Let’s look, as an example, at some ways to treat shock. Shock occurs when heart output and blood pressure is not sufficient to provide adequate blood and oxygen to tissues and organs. This is a life threatening condition that will typically result in death if not treated immediately. Shock can occur due to injury, psychological trauma, as an acute stress reaction, infection, heart disease, and other factors.
If someone is in shock you should lay the person down with their feet elevated approximately 12 inches above their head, check for any obvious injuries, and keep the person warm using blankets or clothing. During shock CPR may be necessary, and hydration is critical to replace blood volume.
Shock is a medical emergency and you should always seek medical assistance if at all possible. What if this help is not available though? In this situation, use some rhubarb to make a tonic which can help treat shock and any underlying conditions like inflammation or infection. Place a few handfuls of rhubarb stalks in 2 cups of water and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for 8-24 hours in a covered container then strain. Drink small amounts of the tonic through the day. This may help treat the symptoms of shock and also any underlying infection and inflammation.
You can also drink clean water with a small amount of salt dissolved in it to increase blood pressure if you are awake and aware. A third option for treating shock when medical help can not be found is to drink hawthorn tea to regulate blood pressure. Add 1 teaspoon hawthorn berries to 1 cup of clean boiling water, cool, then drink.
Physical Endurance Regardless of Joint Pain
The goal here is to ensure that you are capable of all the physical tasks and challenges that you will face in any type of adverse situation.
It won’t do you any good to have all the supplies you need if you can’t carry them with you or you are not capable of traveling a long distance if necessary.
In a disaster or survival scenario the physical requirements will be grueling at any age. You need to be up to the challenge.
Think about what you could have to go through if you need to go off grid and survive a disaster or other chaotic event.
Be realistic about how physically fit you really are and the challenges that you could face.
To survive you will need stamina, strength, balance, flexibility, power, speed, agility, cardiovascular, accuracy, and coordination. To develop all of these skills you must train and practice frequently. Before you start any workout and exercise always check with your physician to make sure that it is safe to do so.
Don’t let joint pain or arthritis keep you from being physically fit. By age 50 almost everyone has some joint pain or arthritis but this does not have to stop you from being physically fit enough to face any survival situation.
There are many modified exercises designed specifically for people who have arthritis or some other form of joint pain so that you can stay in the best physical shape possible without causing further pain, damage, or injury to your joints.
Some tips for exercising when you have pain or discomfort in your joints:
- Ease into it if you have been sedentary for some time.
- Apply heat to any sore joints before you start exercising. Use heat on the joints for 20 minutes and then do your workout. A warm moist towel, heat pack, or hot shower will do the trick.
- Start every exercise session with 10 minutes of range of motion exercises to loosen up your joints and prevent injury.
- Choose low impact exercise methods to minimize the impact on your joints.
- Keep your movement easy and stop immediately if you feel sharp pain or other injury warning signs. Start slow and gentle to avoid harming your joints further.
- Try to avoid running, jumping, and other exercises that have forceful impacts on your joints.
- Apply ice to your joints for 20 minutes after you exercise to minimize pain and swelling.
- Never exercise the same muscle groups two days in a row.
- Even when you are having a flare up you can still perform range of motion exercises to keep the painful joints from stiffening up further.
- Use strengthening and conditioning exercises that do not involve the painful or swollen joints.
In a bug out or emergency situation you may not have access to a gym, or even basic fitness equipment. In order to stay fit you may have to get creative and make do with the weight of your own body and any common items that you have on hand. You can lift bags or cans of food, filled bottles and jugs, and even small children instead of weights as long as you are careful.
There are also low impact exercises that use your own body weight for strengthening and conditioning, such as push ups and sit ups, and no fitness equipment or items are required to do them. You need to be physically fit and healthy in order to survive. Don’t let joint pain or arthritis keep you from this goal.
Unarmed Self Defense
Could you defend yourself or others if it came down to this? Do you understand the basic principles of unarmed self defense enough to use them when it matters most?
For example one of the first important principles of unarmed self defense is the plus one rule. Always treat every fight or other confrontational situation as if there is another assailant waiting in hiding because there might be. This could mean that sticking around to finish off an opponent after you have them stunned and defeated could be counter productive because more assailants could arrive while you are doing this.
Do you know which areas of the body are the weakest?
Even the biggest and strongest person in the world will have their eyes water if their nose is broken or they are poked in the eye, making them unable to see and to fight for a period of time.
There are a number of weak spots on the body that can not be trained and toughened up, and these are natural targets. The eyes, nose, throat, groin, and even the ears are all weak spots that can provide effective avenues of attack if push comes to shove and you must defend yourself or others.
Do you know to always stay moving during a fight or confrontation situation?
This keeps your assailant from being able to set up before an attack and it takes you out of the kill zone. When you are on the move you will be harder to corner and far more difficult to hit effectively.
Unarmed combat does not mean that you do not have the natural weapons that God gave you, and these can be highly effective in a hand to hand combat situation when you know what they are. Your head, elbows, knees, palms, heels, and other very hard and tough parts of your body can do massive damage to your opponent while minimizing any pain or injury to yourself. These body areas can cause a great deal of pain and injury to any assailant when used properly.
Do you know enough to aim for your opponent’s head while always protecting your own from attacks?
Practice bringing your chin down to your chest, raising your shoulders up, bringing your elbows above eye level, and touching your open hands over your head. This will protect your head from devastating blows while still allowing you to use powerful strikes. You can strike your opponent in the nose, throat, back of the neck, or face and cause a great deal of pain and damage.
In any confrontation it is almost guaranteed that one or more attackers can move forward faster than you can retreat when a straight line is used. In order to address this you need to move laterally so that you move off the line of attack instead of staying directly in it. This will allow you to strike back while minimizing any impact or blows.
Another hard self defense fact is that in almost any violent confrontation you will be hit, and this is something that you need to expect so that you can keep going when it happens. If you are fearful of being hit then you may hesitate at the worst possible time. By using protective techniques and keeping your weak areas covered you will keep any pain and damage to a minimum so that you can still fight back and defend yourself.
Effective self defense also means being able to read silent cues and body language. Body language can be very telling, and silent cues can help you survive to be the last one standing if you know how to read these signs correctly. Aggressive or dominating body language can indicate a physical threat so it is important to recognize these signals as quickly as possible.
For example, if someone is clenching their fists or they have considerable muscle tension these are signs of anger or aggression. Narrowed or squinting eyes, negative facial expressions, changes in stance or posture, and unwelcome or unwanted touching are also signs of hostile intentions. Knowing these warning signs can keep you safe by helping you avoid the wrong people in any type of situation.
Your mind can be the most powerful survival tool that you have at your disposal when used properly. A survival mindset will help you survive even when you have no tools, equipment, or other supplies. Some refer to this as a will to live but a survival mindset is much more than just this single factor.
You will need to overcome fear and panic, deal with boredom and high levels of physical and mental stress, be mentally flexible and ready to adapt no matter what is thrown at you, learn to be a predator instead of prey, recognize danger instantly, and have a can do attitude that will keep you going no matter how bad things get. This type of mindset is prepared for anything, expecting and preparing for the worst but still holding out some hope that things will get better.
A survival mindset means managing your thoughts, anxieties, panic, and fears no matter how stressful a situation is. If you do not learn how to control your fear and other negative emotions then they will take control of you. Fear can quickly become overwhelming if you are not trained to deal with it, and this could leave you vulnerable.
The human DNA is conditioned for certain responses to stressful situations and chaotic environments, this can not be avoided, and in a survival situation these same responses could get you or someone else killed if they are not controlled and managed. You can gain all the knowledge possible about what to do in a situation but when things go haywire the actual stress of the situation changes things significantly.
Dissociation can be a good way to deal with fear and panic, and this technique is used by military members and special forces when they endure physical pain and discomfort or when dealing with fear and panic. These individuals are not immune to fear, they feel it just like you do, but they have been trained to disassociate from this natural stress response and focus their mind elsewhere instead.
By making an effort to dissociate from the negative physical or emotional state you are training your mind to refocus even when danger pops up or you are in physical pain. This will allow you to think carefully and quickly analyze a situation instead of letting fear paralyze you or panic cause you to make a grave error in your reactions.
Some ways that you can train to deal with fear and panic include:
- Use disassociation first when you have pain, before reaching for pain medications.
- Practice dissociation when you perform long sets of exercises that involve monotonous repetition, such as sit ups, push, ups, and other simple exercises that can be grueling over the long haul.
- Try sitting in cold water for as long as possible.
- When you experience fear or panic try to focus on people who depend on you instead of these emotions, whether this is your family, your team, or your co-workers.
- Find your happy place. This is a place in your mind which causes you to experience positiv emotions and releases pent up stress that we all carry around.
- Step outside of your comfort zone and set goals that challenge you in new ways.
- Counter negative thoughts with positive ones. Fear, panic, and other negative emotions can lead to negative thoughts, and these can become contagious.
- Use visualization and guided imagery in order to practice for a real life survival scenario.
If you go over situations in your mind in full detail then you will be better prepared when they play out in real life and less likely to react out of fear and panic.
During times of extreme stress it is essential to relieve some of this so that you can function as needed. You will need to have a clear head in order to make the right decisions and stay alive, and this means keeping your stress levels as low as possible in spite of the chaos all around you. Stress can cause a flood of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, fogging up your mind, initiating your fight or flight response, and keeping you from making wise decisions. If you can not calm your mind and body then you have lost the war before you even fight the first battle.
Some relaxation and stress techniques to use:
- Meditation can calm your mind and relieve stress.
- Yoga relaxes your mind and body both.
- Visualization. Think about a person, place, or thing that is included in one of the happiest times you have ever had and use this for visualization. Add as many details and use as many senses as you can so that the visualization is highly realistic.
- Physical activity can relieve some stress as long as this activity is necessary for survival and not a waste of energy.
- Progressive muscle relaxation is easy to use and can have a very relaxing effect.
- Deep breathing can be a great tool for relaxation.
- Massage can help relieve stress, relax the muscles involved, and focus your thoughts and attention on the here and now.
- Aroma therapy is very effective at relieving stress and negative emotions.
Each of the skills and techniques listed above must be practiced regularly in order to be effective in a survival situation. Just like any skill or muscle group the more you practice the better you will get, and the more effective the techniques and methods will be.
Communication is an important element of any situation, and you must have the necessary skills and knowledge to communicate effectively with others and recognize any threats. Warning signs that someone does not have the best of intentions can include:
- Disregard for your space or property.
- Threatening gestures like sudden movements, arm sweeps, or clenched fists.
- Deceptive body language such as sweating, muscle twitches, or avoiding eye contact.
- Excessive curiosity about what you have, or making demands of you.
- Failing to heed posted signs or obey any reasonable requests.
- Sneaky behavior like trespassing or going through your property without an invitation.
Whether you find yourself in a bug out situation, a natural disaster strikes, martial law is declared, or you just want to stay safe you need to know the best practices for communicating. These universal practices are known by most people and they can be very effective at keeping you safe while you communicate with others that you do not know.
Some best practices for communication that you should always follow include:
- Speak at a distance. Keeping distance between you allows both parties to feel safe while still allowing effective communication. Never let someone get too close to you until you are sure of their intentions.
- Use a loud verbal greeting to announce yourself from a distance if you come across a home, camp, or compound.
- Dress in clothing and gear that is appropriate yet non menacing.
- Always obey all posted signs that you come across.
- Never trespass on property that is not yours or sneak around someone else’s camp because this could get you killed.
- Carry a white piece of cloth so that you can display a white flag. This is not just a signal of surrender, it shows that you are willing to parlay or trade.
- Always use a neutral tone of voice and avoid any aggressive or threatening gestures.
- Comply with all reasonable requests when you are not in your own area. This shows that you are not a threat and will prevent them from becoming skittish enough to try and take you out. You should also expect others to comply with any requests that you make when they visit you as long as these requests are reasonable.
- Stay calm and focused. If you become loud or excited then this could be misinterpreted and the event could end badly.
Do you feel you have enough self-training to handle any crisis? Have you ever found yourself in an adverse situation where your survival was threatened or you were forced to physically and mentally defend yourself? What happened? What other survival tips can you share?
This article has been written by John Gilmore for Survivopedia.