Survival Stressors in a Survival Situation **** Survival is More Than Canned Food and Matches...

When we think of being prepared, often, we do not think about how we will react in a survival situation, or what being under great stress can do to our body. I read this blog and thought it had enough good information and things to keep in mind to post it here for you all.

I know myself, last week I was in the middle of cooking a ton of food and doing other things in the house and we lost power due to an accident and the vehicle hitting a pole taking out the electric lines. As much as I have learned over the past few years, and even with all the gear and supplies I have acquired over that time period, my initial reaction wasn't what I expected. I stressed out for a bit. I actually am surprised by that! Keep in mind, I was in MY OWN HOME! Now, imagine how we will react if we do face collapse.

As I have stated in previous posts, we are a spoiled nation. My family wasn't "rich". We were middle class and my parents both worked full time. But, I can look back now and honestly say they did spoil us. Giving us what they didn't have. I can only remember going without electric when I was a kid for 3 days straight during a huge snow/ice storm. We all stayed in the living room by our fireplace and cooked over that. Candles and lanterns our only light at night. THAT was the longest three days, ever! I have camped some in my lifetime and didn't stress, as that was fun! When you know you won't have power, you are prepared for it and I feel, you don't stress out. LOL

Sure, I can have all the prep items I can get my hands on and think I can survive anything. Stressors that come with a survival situation changes all of that! How you handle things and situations plays a big part in it all.

I was talking to a friend about WHY did I stress when I lost power last week. Hell, my job was so stressful that they equate being a police dispatcher to that of an air traffic controller. They also say that my job takes 7 years off your life because of the stress. Well, my friend told me that I may have had a stressful job, but, I wasn't the one going to the calls. I was safe in my barracks, behind bullet proof glass, giving out those calls. Makes a big difference if you are out on the street actually in harms way.

I hope you all take something from this article!

Take care, Robin


Any event can lead to stress and, as everyone has experienced, events don’t always come one at a time. Often, stressful events occur simultaneously. These events are not stress, but they produce it and are called “stressors.” Stressors are the obvious cause while stress is the response. Once the body recognizes the presence of a stressor, it then begins to act to protect itself.

In response to a stressor, the body prepares either to “fight or flee.” This preparation involves an internal SOS sent throughout the body. As the body responds to this SOS, the following actions take place:

•The body releases stored fuels (sugar and fats) to provide quick energy.
•Breathing rate increases to supply more oxygen to the blood.
•Muscle tension increases to prepare for action.
•Blood clotting mechanisms are activated to reduce bleeding from cuts.
•Senses become more acute (hearing becomes more sensitive, pupils dilate, smell becomes sharper) so that you are more aware of your surroundings.
•Heart rate and blood pressure rise to provide more blood to the muscles.

This protective posture lets you cope with potential dangers. However, you cannot maintain this level of alertness indefinitely. Stressors are not courteous; one stressor does not leave because another one arrives. Stressors add up. The cumulative effect of minor stressors can be a major distress if they all happen too close together. As the body’s resistance to stress wears down and the sources of stress continue (or increase), eventually a state of exhaustion arrives. At this point, the ability to resist stress or use it in a positive way gives out and signs of distress appear. Anticipating stressors and developing strategies to cope with them are two ingredients in the effective management of stress. Therefore, it is essential that you be aware of the types of stressors that you will encounter. The following paragraphs explain a few of these.

Injury, Illness, or Death

Injury, illness, and death are real possibilities that you have to face. Perhaps nothing is more stressful than being alone in an unfamiliar environment where you could die from hostile action, an accident, or from eating something lethal. Illness and injury can also add to stress by limiting your ability to maneuver, get food and drink, find shelter, and defend yourself. Even if illness and injury don’t lead to death, they add to stress through the pain and discomfort they generate. It is only by controlling the stress associated with the vulnerability to injury, illness, and death that you can have the courage to take the risks associated with survival tasks.

Uncertainty and Lack of Control

Some people have trouble operating in settings where everything is not clear-cut. The only guarantee in a survival situation is that nothing is guaranteed. It can be extremely stressful operating on limited information in a setting where you have limited control of your surroundings. This uncertainty and lack of control also add to the stress of being ill, injured, or killed.


Even under the most ideal circumstances, nature is quite formidable. In survival, you will have to contend with the stressors of weather, terrain, and the variety of creatures inhabiting an area. Heat, cold, rain, winds, mountains, swamps, deserts, insects, dangerous reptiles, and other animals are just a few of the challenges that you will encounter while working to survive. Depending on how you handle the stress of your environment, your surroundings can be either a source of food and protection or can be a cause of extreme discomfort leading to injury, illness, or death.

Hunger and Thirst

Without food and water you will weaken and eventually die. Thus, getting and preserving food and water takes on increasing importance as the length of time in a survival setting increases. Foraging can also be a big source of stress since you are used to having your provisions issued. Fatigue

Forcing yourself to continue surviving is not easy as you grow more tired. It is possible to become so fatigued that the act of just staying awake is stressful in itself.


There are some advantages to facing adversity with others. As a soldier you learn individual skills, but you train to function as part of a team. Although we complain about higher headquarters, we become used to the information and guidance it provides, especially during times of confusion. Being in contact with others also provides a greater sense of security and a feeling someone is available to help if problems occur. A significant stressor in survival situations is that often you have to rely solely on your own resources.

The survival stressors mentioned in this section are by no means the only ones you may face. Remember, what is stressful to one person may not be stressful to another. Your experiences, training, personal outlook on life, physical and mental conditioning, and level of self-confidence contribute to what you will find stressful in a survival environment. The object is not to avoid stress, but rather to manage the stressors of survival and make them work for you.

We now have a general knowledge of stress and the stressors common to survival. The next step is to examine your reactions to the stressors you may face.

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Good post, Robin.  There is so much that can be said on this subject that I won't even try.  It is far too complex due to psychological and physical makeup of individuals and their previous experience and training in handling stressors.

Thanks, JB! I keep going back to how I was raised. My parents were older when they had us. My father was a very young Marine at the end of WW2. He enlisted after his older brother went missing. His brother was in the Big Red One and was in Africa fighting Gen. Rommell. He was only one of the two that lived in his unit. They found him in a hospital and he didn't even know his name at that time. That made my father even tougher. My parents grew up during some hard times, so when they had us later in their married life, they were thankful and yes, sorta spoiled us. Now, don't get me wrong, my dad was strict as heck. My mom just the opposite. They worked hard and we really didn't want for anything. They made our life a whole lot more comfortable than they had it, so to speak. What I am saying is, now that my parents are both gone and I don't have my strong Dad to rely on, I have to go on all that he taught me. I am the most like him out of the three of us and I thank God for that! I am also thankful that I hung with him most of the time so he rubbed off a lot on me. I can not believe at times what is happening right here in our country, but, it is happening. My parents would not believe any of this. I'd like to think when I really need to be tough like nails, I can be. I know that I have the capability to be that way. I proved that at work over and over. Had to grow a tough skin from all the horrible calls I got and things I saw. I have been tested more than I'd like to even talk about on here. I just need to become unspoiled in my daily life and realize things don't always stay the same! 

This is not exactly "on topic" but speaking of survival stressors, I woke up this morning feeling wonderfully relaxed and refreshed.  My primary stressor had been successfully impeached and removed from office along with most of his primary socialist supporters.  The world was a bright place until I got away from my pillow.  Sigh.  Oh, well!

Wish I could have that dream, JB! 

Yes, all good points.  And the brainless who believe the bad politicians continue to attack capitalism and energy - the foundations of civilization.  They seem to want to return badly to the good old days of the dark ages.  Those were the days when people pooped in streams, and had bubonic plague, and were led by evil dictators whose only worry was that they would die of syphilis.  Yes!  They just cannot wait to get back to those days.  You would think that someone with brains would realize by now that the most civilized countries are the ones best at freedom and capitalism - who work and make things to sell worldwide.  But these do not appear to be bright people.

And these people like to call themselves "intellectuals" - the brightest from our universities.  It does cost a fortune nowadays to go to a university and get a lobotomy.  For my opinion, I think more along the lines of Jamie Lee Curtis in the movie "Fish Called Wanda".  I have worn shoes smarter than these people.  Calling them idiots would be unfair to the poor idiots around the world.  They seem to think that money grows on trees - perhaps because some banks have branches.  They should wear signs that say "Idiot" so I can see them on the street and walk to the other side of the street for safety.

As I read this from you, I immediately thought of my oldest sister. She went to college a conservative and came out with a labotomy! I can talk to her about anything BUT politics! Shame! 

*****And these people like to call themselves "intellectuals" - the brightest from our universities. It does cost a fortune nowadays to go to a university and get a lobotomy. *****


Hello Robin,

Excellent post.  The level of honesty and openness is refreshing to say the least.  I was going to make a post about a video I came across that sort of touches on this topic in a seemingly unrelated way.  Here is the video:  *WARNING*  Some strong language.

It really is impossible to train for all survival situations.  I have said prior that the point of training and proper equipment is that they provide the chance to change what would have been a survival situation into something merely less than optimal.  However, there are a few things we can do generally to get us better prepared to deal with problems that may occur in a situation where our survival could be in question.

Be honest with who we are as a person, and what we know.  When it comes to bushcraft, I listen to people who know about bushcraft.  I wouldn't make a pimple on either Ray Mears' or Mors Kochanski's asses  They speak, I listen.  When it comes to guns, James Yeager knows far more than I do.  He speaks, I listen.  When it comes to emergency survival, Dave Canterbury developed the best system I've come across.  He speaks, I listen.  You get the point. 

Think about how well you function when you are cold, hungry, thirsty, exhausted, stressed, anxious, afraid and in pain.  Think about how your attitude is affected whenever you experience one of these things.  Think about how you react when nothing goes right.  Think about how your ability to think and function physically is effected by any of the above stimuli.  Think about what it would be like to experience them all simultaneously.  Tailor your training and equipment to deal with the worst of those problems. 

Having a kit focused on the essentials of your survival that contains gear that is 99% foolproof, is as bombproof as possible in their construction, and require only gross motor movement to operate is the way to go.  Then remember two is one and one is none.  This is for when your bombproof gear fails at the worst possible time that it does not result in a life-ending failure for you.

I could and do go on and on about this topic.  Thank you for sharing your experience.  Again, your brevity is refreshing. 

God bless.

Hiya Rahth,

That video of James Yeager is just great! He has grown on me! :)) He is one who says it like it is and he speaks the truth in that video! 

I agree, we must be honest about who we are as a person and what we know. Understanding that we all have to start somewhere and listen to those who know more than we do.

I admit, I did not know much a few years ago! I have learned over time from you, also by listening to Dave Canterbury and others, and by trial and error. I have learned that I can not do something I see or read the first time out of the box.

Perfect example of that was my first attempt of making fire. I went outside all proud of myself saying, I'm going to do this first try. Well, not so fast! As you know, I failed miserably and had to come back in and watch how it was done again before I was successful! Did much better at my first attempt at batoning wood. Only hit my finger once! hehe 

I have handled tons of stress in my life. My job, caring for my father for 8 years after the loss of both legs, now what I have here at home as well. Thinking I am prepared for any situation and that I will be able to handle it is no longer how I look at things. I have a patience problem that I am working on. I know that will be my downfall if I do not get that under control. Continuing to learn from those that know far more than I do is not admitting I don't know things. It's just flat out smart!  


Robin :) 

Thanks Robin Great Information.

Most welcome, Dr. Westbrook! 

Good info, Robin.  One cannot say,  in advance, for certain how we will react or respond to an extremely stressful situation.  I may be proficient with my firearms, but I have not been faced with using them when someone is shooting at me (I think that would be stressful)!  The video Rahthrae links to is excellent.

Something of a personal nature for me has been to learn to recognize intuition, and I also believe that we all possess a 'sixth sense' for lack of a better word.  That 'sixth sense' may be something the 'cave man' used daily for survival, but the 'scientist' dismisses starting in early childhood.  It is not always easy to learn to trust your inner feelings, your intuitions, your gut.

Sometimes those who seem to 'lose it' over little things going wrong are fine and step right up during a major event.  Unfortunately, it is something we would not know for certain until faced with that major event.  There are people I would trust to take a lead no matter what the circumstance, yet they may not be nearby when something happens, or be able to take the lead.  Yet another stressor!  That is all the more reason to be as self sufficient as we can.

Hi JG,

Yes, that video is great! James Yeager takes a bit of getting used to, but he's very good. 

I agree, none of us know what the future holds for us in this country with what is happening under this administration. We do live in very scary times. I know we all feel it. Like a noose growing ever tighter. I can only keep learning, practicing and keep acquiring things needed. Learn to be more patient and channel my stress into being productive. I'm like you. I trust my gut feelings most times. Usuallt that gut feeling turns out to be right! 

:) Robin





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