survival stress
Prepper Psychology Survival

Surviving Psychological Stress

My regular readers will know that a lot of my articles focus on the psychology of preparedness and enduring stressful situations.  For if you lose your will, you will not find your way…

Below is a collection of my thoughts and previous articles I’ve written which can help you ready your mind for that potential SHTF scenario:

The 5 Senses & Positive Stimuli

Taste – Are you only stocking rice, beans and corn?  Odds are, if you do not add sufficient variety to your meals, you will suffer food lethargy.  Having a good meal every once in awhile can have a significant impact on your morale and help keep your spirits up!

  • Supplement your bulk grain stores with a couple really good tasting meals.  It may be a little more expensive, but again you are “supplementing” your bulk grains.  Personally, I’ve found Valley Food Storage to have the best tasting dehydrated food – very much like homemade.
  • Store spices in bulk to add intense flavor to those grains!  Read my article here on purchasing extremely cheap spices in bulk from a reputable manufacturer.
  • Have pick-me-up food in your bug out bag.  A couple ideas are gum, sweet treats or instant coffee like Starbucks Via sachets.

Touch/Feel – This is a very broad category which contains a variety of sensory inputs.

  • Don’t underestimate the importance of human physical contact.  Hugs, massages, etc., can all help alleviate stress.   Don’t skimp out on affection for those in your group who need it.
  • Sex – Regardless of your religious beliefs, it happens.  Hence, you’ll see a lot of survival articles out there stress the importance of condoms and the other creative uses of them.
  • Other creature comforts – While not appropriate for bugging out, some creature comforts for the “bug in” scenario can refresh your mind.  Figure out how to have an off grid hot shower.  Pair that up with stocking up on soap, a straight edge razor, and other grooming materials.  The difference between being cold and dirty vs. warm and refreshed has a major psychological impact.

Smell – Pleasant scents have a tremendous impact on your state of mind: perfume/cologne, food, etc.  They can cause us to be hungry, elate our mood, or even signal danger.  One thing I carry in my bag is a small essential oil bottle of Frankincense and Myhrr.  The scent helps alleviate stress, and I do think it has a positive impact.  Whether it’s an essential oil, scented lotion, or perfume from a loved one, closing your eyes and taking in a deep breath of a pleasant scent can help get your mind back on track.

Sight – If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, you might remember the scene where Rick encounters Morgan Jones – a man with his son who took Rick in to their home.  When talking about the apocalypse, Morgan said his wife was gathering pictures while he was running around gathering water and food.  Do you have pictures of loved ones in your bug out bag?  Are digital copies of your photographs the only ones you have?  Consider printing out some photographs and stuffing them in your bag.  Visually looking at pictures of pleasant times in the past may help you regain spirit to continue the fight.

Hearing – Ever watch Les Stroud – Survivorman?  One of Les’ important survival tools is his harmonica.  Even in The Walking Dead, the group would gather around and listen to Beth sing songs to help lift their mood.  If you’re musically talented, you have a leg up because you can entertain yourself and others with your music.  However, if you can’t play an instrument or sing, a small music player is not that bad of a thing to carry.  Two cautions – one, always be aware of situational awareness.  Do not plug in your headphones and be oblivious to your environment.  Second, a small solar charger will be needed for your music player.  Goal zero makes a nice small unit which I like for charging all my AA batteries.


In my article – How to Fight Sleep Deprivation, I explain some simple ways to stay awake when bugging out.  However, everyone needs sleep at some point or you will face psychological stress and even hallucinations.  Make sure you get adequate sleep!  It’s much easier if you are in a group and can share the responsibility of sentry lookout…which brings us to our next point


Humans are social beings.  Remember the movie Cast Away?  The character almost loses his mind because he has no one to socialize with.  Further, he has to create a “person” out of a volleyball so that he has someone to talk with.  Having a preparedness community not only strengthens your physical numbers and resources, but it also provides an outlet for you to socialize, share feelings, and simply be human.  Are you a lone wolf?  If so, you might want to change that.

Training & Conditioning

The mind needs conditioned and trained just as any other body part.  Here’s a couple things that help condition the mind:

  •  Exercise “can” teach us how to overcome physical pains and push forward.  Not to mention, many of us need it as a physical aspect for SHTF preparedness.
  • Real life training – If you take a really good dynamic firearm training course, they will sometimes treat you like you are in boot camp to add psychological stress.  Whether you get this type of training, or train your mind by powering through a cold winter camp outing, these events can all help strengthen your will.

How else have you trained your mind?  If you have a good idea you would like to share, provide a comment!

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