Chapter 1

Adopting A Survival Mentality

Before learning the many skills in this guide, by far, the most important thing you must learn to survive is to be in control of your emotions.

In this chapter, you’ll learn to calm things downtake an inventory, and prioritize your needs.

Survival Mentality

Stop and Breathe

A lot of people think they will handle survival situations just fine. Once they are thrust into such a situation, they start to panic and are incapable of thinking straight.

You must force yourself to stop and recognize the situation you’re in. Research shows that by thinking about and slowing down our breathing, we can engage different parts of our brain. Doing this will allow us to think critically and better assess our situation.

Take several minutes just to breathe deeply and slowly. If you struggle to do this, you could try a breathing exercise like breathing in, counting to five, then breathing out, and counting to five. I guarantee it’ll only take a couple of minutes before you find yourself in a much better state of mind.


Now you are calm, consider the problem and possible solutions.

If unsure where you are, take out a map and compass and look for recognizable landmarks. Get everybody to retrace their steps from the last known place they were in. If someone is missing, consider how to communicate with them.

Check every member of the group is okay. Do people need help to relax? Does anybody need first aid? Once you are back in control of the situation, it’s time to look after others.

Take an inventory of the resources you have

If the problem looks like it will take time to resolve, the next step is to conduct an inventory of available resources. There is a handful of essential items you need to get by. Depending on your situation, you may have specific needs. The resources you need to survive the desert are very different from those needed to survive the cold.

Check what materials you have which might help you in a survival situation. Look around, is there anything that could help you in your immediate environment?

For a full list of recommended resources, consult chapter 11: survival packing.

Identify and prioritize essential tasks for survival

Many people don’t know how to prioritize tasks in a survival situation. A positive mental attitude and administering necessary first aid (chapter 6!) come first. Once everybody is okay, and the situation is under control, consider your priorities. Typically, you would work in the following order:

Develop a plan

You’ll often find your priorities go in the above order. That said, consider the situation at hand and decide what applies to you. Once you’re clear on your essential needs and their priority, start to act. If you are with others, work as a team and be supportive. Try to bring a positive mental attitude to everything, and share that feeling.

This guide will provide specific tips, such as building a fire, sourcing drinking water, or signaling for help.

Remain positive and proactive

Easy to say yet hard to do. Remaining positive to avoid panic and being proactive to fulfill your needs is key to success. The survival expert Bear Grylls admitted: 

“I am not fearless. I get scared plenty. But I have also learned how to channel that emotion to sharpen me.”

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Adopting A Survival Mentality

The right mentality will help you regain control of your emotions and prioritize your needs. In the next chapter, we’ll look at survival shelters, from shelters you can buy to shelters you can build, as well as helpful tips to consider.

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