As vital to survival as it is for you to be medically, physically fit, it is just as important for your survival that you keep your mind sharp and in the moment during a crisis.

This sounds simple, but many of us don’t realize is exactly how difficult keeping a clear mind is in the face of a disaster.

A life-or-death situation is STRESS-FULL, especially if you are the decision maker in these circumstances. As the decision-maker during an emergency, you’re forced to instantly process massive amounts of data under significant time constraints. The impact of this stress on your personal judgment is huge, mainly in the way we are able to mentally weigh the risks and rewards of our actions.

Studies show that as counterintuitive as it seems, stress causes people to inaccurately asses the pros and cons of their actions, emphasizing the rewards and minimizing the risks. This is demonstrated in addiction studies, when people crave cigarettes under stress; the pro (the stress release from smoking) seems much more attractive than the negative consequences (lung cancer) during a stressful moment, even when in reality the consequences are actually far greater.

In other words, stress retards our ability to think things through correctly, and we literally don’t know what we’re doing.

A true survivor adopts a survivalist mentality, which means remaining clear-headed, collected and focused so you can respond quickly and use your very best judgment. If you’re overwhelmed, the fact is you won’t be able to think logically and you will make bad decisions.
Potentially very bad ones…Having the right attitude and keeping yourself emotionally and mentally healthy could save your life. While you continue to stockpile food, water and knowledge, don’t forget that preparing yourself psychologically is important to your survival as well.

Preparing psychologically is a lot more than just keeping a positive attitude. Just as we can’t survive on only ice cream, just thinking happy thoughts won’t get us through an emergency.

You must have determination as well as hope, and an internal script to fall back on as needed. I will share with your some principles I keep in mind which I have found helpful in emergencies.

First of all, don’t hesitate. Don’t ask why, just act. In an emergency, the decisions made in the first seconds, minutes, hours are critical to damage and loss control, and ultimately the outcome of the entire disaster depends on these decisions.

To prepare yourself mentally to respond quickly when needed, keep the mantra in your head “respond now, ask questions later.” Keep your eyes on the prize as it were by having a strong will to live, and a determination to never give up.

Have hope. Interviews with Holocaust survivors and former POWs make it clear that it was the people who remained hopeful who made it. Rejoice and take comfort in your prepping efforts, and have hope that no matter what happens, you will survive.

Believe in yourself. I have previously written you on the topic of discussing your preparations with non-prepper friends and family members (bad idea, by the way, at best this opens you up for ridicule, at worst everyone and their uncle will find out about your preps, opening you up as a target for theft). As preppers we constantly face resistance, even mockery from our various acquaintances and loved ones who call us crazy. Do not let this get to you or discourage you from taking action in an emergency. Ignore the peer pressure and do what you know is right to do.

Boost your confidence by investing in self-education. The secret to confidence is knowing exactly what to do when a situation presents itself. Gain this knowledge by taking a CPR or First-Aid course, or take a self-defense class.

Under stress humans scientifically are unable to think straight, and can end up doing all sorts of wrong things. Maintaining your cool in a disaster will save your life. You can prepare yourself now by mastering some simple “Jedi mind tricks” so you can react fast and make the best decisions possible. Because panicking never solved anything.

Together We Can Survive Anything,
Dean Miller
American Survivor

P.S. One way to boost your confidence is educating yourself and becoming an expert on as many survival skills as you can.

I recently received and reviewed a fun and fascinating book written by an ex-CIA agent full of super-cool, super-secret tips for things like hot wiring a car, picking locks, and improvising a weapon in an emergency.

You can check it out here.