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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Comment by RNhunter on January 16, 2014 at 1:26pm

Personally, I would think that being a police dispatcher would be a very stressful job.  Why?  You can hear and feel the pain but cannot do anything about it.  Is that not what our nightmares are all about?  I often have nightmares where I am trying to get to a room but when I think I find it - the room is different.  Where did it go?  Perhaps the same feeling of helplessness.  You can see or hear a problem but can do little personally to help.  Is that not what nightmares are made of?  And who said that all pain was physical?  Whoever says that had never been around my in laws.

The only thing more stressful perhaps than that job would be listening to Obama on the nightly news.  And yes, I am being silly, but not totally.  So often I turn off the news lately since my body cannot take the nonsense any more.  As Dennis Miller some days says on the O Reilly show - something like "I've had it.... just shut up and tell me where to send my money and leave me alone".

But yes, Robin, I for one think your job would be very stressful.  Of course 911 calls should be taken by politicians such as Hilary or Eric Holder who really just do not care if people die.  It is quite clear my dear Robin, if I might say that, is that... you and I and some others on this site care a lot if others die.


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