Great Tips for Adopting a Survival Mentality

Develop surviving mentality

Obviously, a significant part of prepping for a disaster is taking the necessary physical precautions. This includes stockpiling plenty of food and water; learning how to become self-sustainable; having several disaster plans for different scenarios outlined; and becoming trained in the arts of self-defense, first aid, and foraging for food.

Various frozen food items
Various frozen food items

However, there’s one more aspect of prepping that you might have overlooked, even if you’ve done or are in the process of doing each of the things that we’ve outlined above, and that is having the right mentality to survive.

A survival mentality is so important because it’s really the only thing that will keep you alive. No matter how strong your stockpiles are, how skilled you have become, or how many plans you have prepared, all of that will be useless if you do not have the willpower and determination to survive.

Prepping for disaster is a huge responsibility. You may think that your straightforward but strong desire to keep each of your family members alive is the only mentality that you need, but the truth is that a survival mentality is more than just the willpower to survive: it’s also how you must think in order to survive.

Most survival and disaster preparation experts would agree that adopting a survival mentality is one of the most crucial steps in preparing for the worst to happen. What’s more, this doesn’t just hold true for outlasting a disaster scenario. It’s equally true for a wilderness survival situation, such as becoming lost in the forest or your vehicle breaking down out in the desert.

The basic principles of a survival mentality:


The willpower to survive
The willpower to survive

Obviously, if you want to create a survival plan, you must have the willpower to survive too. Deciding that you must survive is the first step and can be a more challenging decision than you may think.

This is because stress is your number one enemy in a survival situation. The moment you realize you are lost or stranded in the wilderness, or the moment after disaster strikes, it is only natural to panic. But you can’t let this stress overwhelm you.

Our next principle will deal with how you can manage panic and stress, but for now, we will focus on adopting the willpower to survive.

Simply telling yourself that you will survive actually goes a long way to boosting your willpower. Also, ask yourself what will happen if you don’t act – specifically, what will happen to your family? Do you want anything bad to happen to them? Obviously, you don’t, and this will give you a great deal of willpower.


Try to control your stress in a survival situation
Try to control your stress in a survival situation

Like we said, panic and stress will be two of your biggest mental enemies in a survival situation. There will undoubtedly be moments when you feel more stressed than others, but there are still basic techniques you can use to keep these feelings under control when they flare up again.

For example, simply taking slow and deep breaths for a minute or two will lower your heart rate and help you gain control over yourself.

Once your heart rate and mind calm down, you are then in a much better position to think about what you need to do from a more rational point of view.


Keeping morale up is important for survival
Keeping morale up is important for survival

It’s important to keep morale high in a survival situation, though it’s easy to see why this can be hard. If you’re running low on supplies or if help doesn’t appear to be on the way, it’s perfectly understandable that your spirits might not exactly be high.

Yes, you can have hope that things will return to normal for you once the situation is over, but, as we said, if your supplies are running low and there doesn’t appear to be any way out, hope can only get you so far.

Fortunately, there is a trick you can use to boost your morale: it is important to remind yourself of what you have accomplished so far.

Getting a fire going to keep yourself warm, keeping your family fed while bugging in, signaling for help, purifying water, and keeping your personal hygiene standards up are all examples of manageable and important steps you can reward yourself for carrying out.

If you’ve been successful at these things thus far, what’s to stop you from continuing to be successful at them?

And if you continue to be successful at completing these tasks, what’s to stop you from surviving and outlasting the situation? Plain and simple: continuing to remind yourself of the tasks that you have completed will keep your morale levels boosted.


The more tasks you complete, the more your morale will be boosted
The more tasks you complete, the more your morale will be boosted

Earlier in this article, we mentioned that a survival mentality isn’t just about giving yourself the willpower to survive but also about thinking about how to survive too.

This is where strategizing comes in. If you manage to control your stress levels and keep your morale boosted, you will have the emotional capacity to formulate a simple and effective plan – as well as backup plans.

While strategizing, you need to take all factors into account – from the amount of food and water you have, and any means available to you of gathering more, to the environment, climate, any physical or mental illness or injury in your group, and what your series of goals are.

Once you’ve decided what your goals are, assign different tasks to different people (assuming you’re in a group) so that multiple goals can be accomplished in a timely manner. Remember that the more tasks you complete, the more your morale will be boosted too.

Survival and exploration in the wilderness can be tough
Survival and exploration in the wilderness can be tough

Everyone in your group should be doing what they can, and, while a leader should be established, everyone’s opinion should be taken into account so that the situation can be examined from multiple perspectives.

So, to summarize: adopting a survival mentality is about finding the willpower to survive, keeping your stress levels down and your morale high, and coming up with a plan that assigns important tasks to different people best suited to complete that task and gradually working towards your goal of outlasting the situation.


nick-oetken is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival