Survival: The psychology of staying alive in the woods

Observe your surroundings

Real survival is not all about skills and knowledge, a huge part of it has to do with a positive mindset. People who consider themselves as survivalists know how stressful a survival situation can be. Fear, stress, and panic are not your friends in these situations.

Stay focused and clear-minded as much as you can because the goal is to get out alive from the scenario. We never know when it might happen and to whom, but keeping a clear mind is crucial in these type of situations.


Will power is your most powerful survival tool
Will power is your most powerful survival tool

Assessing your actual situation is the first thing you should do when get lost. No matter what was the reason for you to end up in a survival situation, you need to be realistic towards your predicament regardless how scared or desperate you are. Observe your surroundings and develop a picture of the conditions. As you take in what is going on around you, you can start planning actions to get yourself together and start finding the way out.

Will power

The mental attitude of the person(s) involved in the survival situation is the key thing. Survival skills are important, but the will to survive is essential. If you have no desire to survive and you let fear overwhelm you, then no skills and knowledge can help you resolve the problem. Focus all your thoughts and strength on the decision to survive.


The key to any skill is practice
The key to any skill is practice

Lots of skills look very good on paper, but it’s not that simple to implement them into the real life disaster. Therefore, every time you go on a camping or hiking trip, practice skills like finding water or starting a fire without a lighter, no matter that you don’t need it at the moment. It’s always helpful to know if you really can make things work when the hard times come. Also, practice how to prevent infections in case someone gets hurt or breaks a leg in the wild. You will be more relaxed and prepared if it happens for real.

Control your fear

Be realistic and don’t let the fear boost your imagination and make mountains out of molehills. To be afraid is normal, but don’t let it control you. Instead, you control it and learn to live with it. Don’t allow fear to overtake the leading place. Be reasonable as much as you can and help others to the same.

Whatever happens, don’t break down

Calm that internal angst with some deep breaths and positive thought. Now start to think clearly.
Calm that internal angst with some deep breaths and positive thought. Now start to think clearly.

Nervous breakdowns, panic attacks and crying in a survival situation will only lead to hysteria and chaos. It sounds silly to say that you shouldn’t be panicking, but if you do it could be a disaster. You are already in a bad position, don’t make it worse for you and the others. The easiest thing is to break down. Learn to stay strong and brave and to find a solution.

Stay positive

When negative and depressive thought possesses your mind, try to change it for optimistic thinking. It may not be easy as it sounds, but it’s worth trying. Think of cheerful things or bring a notebook with positive thoughts that will distract your mind and bring you back to the reality. You will only be able to find possible solutions to the situation if your head is clear.

Laughing makes you more efficient

Laughter is the best medicine
Laughter is the best medicine

Maybe the last thing you want to do while being lost in the woods is to laugh. But, there is nothing better than a good sense of humor in a problematic occasion. It makes you relax, think faster, come up with new ideas that can save your life. The human brain functions better when you’re laughing, and that’s exactly what you need in a survival scenario. Take care and good luck!

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stef-zisovska is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival