Mental and Emotional Survival

By far the biggest problem people face when thrust into a survival situation is not how to find food or water, but how to cope mentally with the situation. Suddenly they have to rely on their instincts, and a whole range of powerful and conflicting emotions can surface. Psychologists generally agree there is a classic sequence of reactions to any traumatic event: shock, denial, fear and anger, blame, depression, acceptance and moving on, or variations of these emotions.


You are unprepared for what's just hit you. You have difficulty processing the information.

As a survival mechanism, you may now acknowledge your situation, but refuse to believe it is true. You continue to say "No, this can't be happening to me".

You become enraged over your situation. You are upset that things aren't the way they were, and you're scared that you'll never get back to normal.

Blaming others for your situation makes you feel better but makes little rational sense.

This is internalised anger. You search for some way to make your stress more manageable.

Now you are getting "real". You are facing reality, however wild and remote it appears to be.

Moving on
Mentally you begin to redress the balance and think about your situation and how you are going to survive, not just for the next few hours but the next few days and weeks.


In a survival situation, feelings of helplessness can turn into depression and loneliness very quickly. One of the greatest and most difficult emotional states to deal with is panic. Panic can cause you to perform irrational actions that can worsen the situation you're in. In extreme circumstances, failure to remain calm can even endanger your life, just because you didn't have the presence of mind to make the right decisions. Most of the time, you won't even realise you're panicking,

The first step to beating panic is to recognise the fact that you may panic if you don't take steps to prevent it. When you are in an unnerving situation it is important to take things step by step and give yourself a chance to assess your situation properly.

Author: Paul

Paul has had an interest in the outdoors since he was a young kid. Walking, tracking and exploring the wilderness around him, from disused overgrown railway lines to the vast wilderness of the UK national parks. Over the last few years Paul has honed his skills into specific areas of bushcraft and survival. He is an expert in map reading, shelter building and knots, traps and fishing.


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