Monday, October 13, 2014

Keys To Survival: Mental Preparedness

My favorite show, (as I’m sure is clear by the amount I write about it) AMC’s The Walking Dead returned yesterday and in leading up to the season premiere I've been re-watching old episodes. There are a lot of practical survival applications to be learned from the walking dead, a few of which I outlined in a former blog post, but one thing that is often taken for granted when it comes to survival is mental preparedness. In survival and preparedness there is a lot of discussion about gear; what you need, what gear is the best, and where to get it. You can pack out your survival bags, create a fallout shelter, stock up supplies for years, but what good is that if you can’t keep it together? If you really want to survive you, of course, need equipment and gear but you’ll also need to equip yourself with knowledge and train your mental faculties.

It’s not a secret that any high stress situation can have a negative effect on someone but the strain of constant anxiety and fear can drive individuals to do things they normally wouldn't. I think the Walking Dead does a nice job of capturing human nature when pushed to its limits. Some people lose a grip on reality; at the start of season 4 of the Walking Dead, Rick runs into a woman named Clara who tries to feed Rick to her undead husband; similarly, the Governor isn't able to come to terms with his daughter being turned into a walker. Then there are those who, without a system in place to discourage or punish them, turn to violence and theft. To relate to the real world, many people turned to looting buildings and storefronts during the Hurricane Katrina aftermath.

Not having a sociology or psychology degree, I don’t have any professional guidance in terms of mental preparedness in high stress situations but I am sure of one thing; if you are mentally prepared for the worst before it happens, you won’t fall apart when it actually happens. If all that is running through your mind is doubt or fear, you won’t be able to clear your mind towards making sound action. I have researched survival techniques and read about survival stories in extreme situations, so I am confident that if I ever find myself in that sort of situation, I’ll know what to do to get myself through. Being prepared is more than having the right gear; it’s about having a plan, and having the self-confidence and clear-headedness to follow through with your plan; this is true whether you’re stranded in the woods, lost at sea, enduring a natural disaster, or fighting off hordes of zombies.

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