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If You Get Lost in the Woods, Stop, Sit and Think! Remain Positive

Terry Hyde, R.N., B.S.N. and James H. Hyde, Editor

Perhaps I understand the rudimentary elements of lack of creature comforts a bit better than most people through visits to my father's homestead in Nova Scotia as a child. He was one of 12 children (4 boys-8 girls), and the family survived on the harvest and preservation of what they produced on their subsistence farm. It was there that I learned what living off the land was truly like first hand.

I learned how to sow and reap, deal with farm animals and remember with great fondness the wood burning kitchen stove, the pot-belly stove in the living room, the hand pump for water at the kitchen sink, the well by the house to get buckets of water, the large basin in the bathroom for bathing, and the ever-malodorous out-house! That was back in the 1950s, but it might as well have been the 1850s.

When they moved to the US, my parents continued to save all manner of things, always remaining prepared for the unexpected. That thought process is implanted in my genes, and preparedness is now an obsession, a subject I've studied in-depth for decades.

Most survival experts will tell you that shelter, fire, water and food, and in that order, are the most important in surviving anything.

While I agree, I believe two other factors to be absolutely essential in coping with disaster. The first is state of mind and the second is mental stimulation. In this article, I'll be covering how to establish and maintain the right preparedness mind set.

One of the first things I learned in my studies was the importance of survival psychology. More than anything else, if you are to survive any disaster you need to keep your wits about you. Panic, indecision and a sense of despair can seriously affect your ability to survive.

This is one aspect of disaster preparedness you can start preparing for without having to spend a great deal of money. You need to start training your mind to adapt as needed to the interruption of all we take for granted. A good book with which to start is You Can If You Think You Can by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.

Basic Concept 1: Survival Depends on the Right Mind set

How to think in survivalRemaining optimistic throughout a crisis is imperative. People have survived seemingly impossible scenarios by staying upbeat and keeping hope alive. They've done so by developing their sub-conscious minds to accept and cling to one critical adage: Never give up, not ever.

If that becomes the way you look at everything life throws at you, you will come through whatever problem, challenge or disaster you face, and be the better for it.

It's important to get your family thinking that way, as well. Why? If even one family member succumbs to the temptation to view a disaster negatively by focusing on the discomfort involved, or panicking, their usual response is to complain, be demanding and argumentative and to ignore the plan prepared by the adult leader.

Importantly, people who think negatively become a drain on the psyches and patience of the other people in your family or group and can become a real liability, especially if they react rebelliously.

Psychologists and psychiatrists say it takes 21 days to develop a habit, so I have a Preparedness Exercise for you. On each of the next 21 days, acquire at least one preparedness item, be it an extra can of vegetables, a camping stove, space blanket, a good first aid kit, anything that can be used for survival. After those 21 days, you'll find yourself more aware of things you may need in a disaster scenario.

Basic Concept 2: Stay Focused

Once you've developed your habit of picking up at least one preparedness item daily you'll find you're more attuned to anything that might help you survive. A TV commercial about a hand-cranked radio, for instance, will grab your attention more so than it would if you hadn't become interested in preparedness.

How does this happen? A part of your brain called the reticular activator filters all of the incoming information and stimuli entering your brain and brings to your awareness things in which you may be very interested.

The reticular activator is goal- or interest-centric. When you set a goal, for instance, and focus on its achievement, the reticular activator filters the incoming stimuli, and when it comes across anything associated with a strong interest in something, it separates that information out, delivers it to your subconscious mind and then into your consciousness.

You'll find that if you go to a thrift shop and find an old hand drill, you'll be more likely to buy that to replace a power drill whereas you might have missed it altogether if you haven't developed a strong interest in survival. Your reticular activator will keep you attuned to preparedness.

Basic Concept 3: Self Discipline

Tolerance varies by degree in all people. For some, the tolerance threshold is short, for others long. It's those with short thresholds who pose a clear and present danger to a family or group in a long-term survival situation.

If you have a teenager in your family, for instance, he or she is most likely to have a short tolerance threshold because we live in an instant gratification world. They are accustomed to texting friends and playing their iPods and computer games, so the sudden inability to do those things is grating and disturbing. They go through a withdrawal process that makes them difficult to deal with.

To start getting mentally in shape for whatever may come, everybody in a family or groups needs to learn self-discipline and put it to practical use. For instance, if you have a "pizza night" every week, try swapping it out with a "sandwich night." If your kids become accustomed to a particular snack, stop giving it to them of it for a week.

It's important that everybody be prepared for the interruption of the lifestyle we take for granted, so introducing small changes that require sacrifice or deny instant gratification helps to build character and patience.

If you have kids and one wants the latest X-Box game, in the past you may have ordered it to be delivered over night. The next time you order one choose the longest shipping method. This helps to teach kids how life can change and how to learn to be patient. As much as possible, you want to move away, but slowly, from instant gratification.

For teens who have suddenly been cut off from their friends and what's familiar, it is important that they not be cut off from everything. That means that when you buy batteries buy extras that are just for them to make sure that an iPod can be powered up for a potentially long period of time. That will help with the adjustment if you find yourself without power for a couple of weeks.

While accommodating teens in this way is a good idea, they must be taught how to think when the chips are down and to be obedient. It's a good idea to start getting prepared mentally as soon as possible. Not only will it help get you through a crisis, but you will find that applying it to all aspects of life will bring some big benefits.

Planning in anticipation of disaster is necessary and it's a good idea to involve your kids in that planning. It helps make them feel like a team member and they are more likely to respond in a positive way if and when disaster strikes.

Getting everyone on the same page thought-wise is never easy, but it's imperative. Everybody must understand that one person is in charge and what he or she says goes no matter what. You also need a second in command, if, God forbid, the leader can no longer lead.

For that reason, everyone should read up on maintaining a positive attitude. Everyone must learn that there will be a period of discomfort in any disaster and the more they think about getting through to the end instead of focusing on their discomfort the better.

I'll be discussing the following in future articles: water, food, heat, lighting, cooking, personnel hygiene, medicine and first aid, the elderly, pets, communication, mental stimulation.

Here at NewEnglandTimes.Com, we have some good news to share with you. We are now working on publishing a preparedness eBook guide that will be loaded with helpful articles, tips, tons of links to preparedness and survival sites and other resources that we think will be most helpful in enabling you to prepare for any disaster. It will be free to our subscribers and visitors, so make sure you sign up as a subscriber at left so you won't miss it when it's announced.


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