Camping & Survival

Resilience and Building the Survivor Mindset

A survival mindset means staying positive.

Fifteen gallons of water? Check!

Three cases of MREs? Check!

Packed bug-out bag? Check!

As someone with a survivalist mindset, you believe you have all the gear you need to survive an emergency or disaster. Not only have you stockpiled food and plenty of water, but you also cached ammunition and mapped out a strategic route to get out of town. However, there might be one thing missing from your bug-out bag—a positive survivalist mindset. Having the correct mindset when it comes to surviving a disaster could be the difference between life and death.

Do you have a positive survivalist mindset?
Do you have a positive survivalist mindset?

When faced with an emergency, our first emotion is most likely fear. Our body responds to fear by pumping a heavy dose of hormones through our bodies to prepare for fight or flight. Our muscles tense up, pupils dilate, breathing and heart rate increase, and our digestive system slows down. Living in an extended state of fear is dangerous. Extreme levels of stress affect our decision making, fine motor skills and concentration—all essential for surviving. Lack of control, an uninviting environment, hunger, thirst, fatigue and isolation can make our reaction to the situation worse. Even after months of putting a foolproof plan in place for a disaster, if you succumb to intense stress and fear, you are able to forget your plan even existed. That is why the right mindset for survival is so important. Attorney and Hurricane Katrina survivor Rick Teissier says, “You have to accept bad things are going to happen. How you react to them will make the biggest difference.”

When studying people’s reactions to disaster and recovery, psychology professor George A. Bonanno, PhD found the majority of survivors of disasters and major life catastrophes were resilient during a time of serious adversity. One of the most important aspects of resiliency is the “belief that one can influence one’s surroundings and the outcome of events,” Bonanno says. Other experts agree. Confidence in your abilities, the perception of your control over the situation and having the tools to maintain control is key in remaining resilient when something bad happens. I know you have the tools, now get the mindset.

Studies done with survivors of 9/11 found that those most resilient:

  • Found meaning in life
  • Helped others
  • Were confident in their strengths
  • Had good problem solving skills
  • Used humor and laughter
  • Felt in control

Keeping stress in check during a survival situation will help maintain your resilience. There are several few ways you can do this.

Get enough Vitamin B
Throw a few bottles of multivitamins in your survival gear. Look for a multivitamin with 100 percent of your daily requirements of Vitamin B and Vitamin C. Both these vitamins help our well-being. Thiamine, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium—also found in a good multivitamin—improve mental health.

Think positively
A survival mindset means staying positive.

Get some exercise
Even five minutes of sweat-inducing activity will make you feel better.

Get some rest
Lack of sleep negatively affects our immune systems, causes poor decision making and leads to high blood pressure.

As people who prepare for SHTF, we know that any emergency will be uncomfortable. Adding a few comfort items into your bug-out gear will help.

A survival mindset means staying positive.
A survival mindset means staying positive.


Forty percent of adults report being afraid of the dark, our fear of the dark comes from the unexpected. It is not necessarily an irrational fear if you can control it. Having plenty of light sources eases this fear. Break a light stick for each person right before bedtime. They will glow for 12 hours.

Staying Warm

Our bodies are constantly in a state of homeostasis. We constantly fight to maintain an internal equilibrium, despite the external changes in our environment. For example, our bodies need to maintain a core temperature of 98.6 degrees F. being too cold can actually kill us. Store emergency blankets and sleeping bags rated for freezing temperatures in your prepping gear. Pack thermal underclothes, thick socks along with feet and hand warmers for colder months. If you plan to bug-in create a sleeping space in the smallest room of your house. The close proximity keeps heat in.


A lot of long-term food storage is focused on staying alive and getting enough calories to give our body energy. However, many of these foods, such as rice and beans will get boring. There are many emergency and long-term food storage companies making freeze-dried comfort foods such as macaroni and cheese and chili. Adding some of these comfort foods to your preps will help.


Physical security and feeling secure are equally important. You want your family to be safe from real threats.

Comfort affects our general well-being. Along with resilience, being confident that our preps and gear will be as comforting as possible helps us during a time of hardship to stay positive.

To understand the survival mindset further, read the following true survival stories:

How do you mentally prepare yourself for an emergency? Share it with others in the comment section.


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