Monday, November 20, 2017

Prepper's Guide to Mental Health and Emotional Preparedness

(Even if you decide not to read this entire article, please check out the section “Getting Help” near the bottom of the article.)

Mental health and emotional preparedness is very important in a crisis. The abilities to not panic, to stay focused, and to think clearly in a crisis are crucial. And you don't want to have to deal with addictions and other mental health challenges (your own, or that of others) in the midst of a crisis. Don't forget that many folks today “manage” their mental health problems with medications that may quickly become unattainable in any post-collapse scenario. 
Most everyone in the prepper and survivalist communities acknowledge the importance of Mental health and emotional preparedness, but few talk about it in any detail. How do we prepare our mental health? Isn't good mental health something we either have or don't have? Is it something we can actually work on? How do we prep our mental health?

Prepping Your Mental Health

1) Develop a healthy spirituality, according to whatever spiritual beliefs you may have. Some suggestions: Reconnect with God. Pray. Read scripture. Go to Church or Synagogue. Seek forgiveness. Get right with God. Be thankful. My relationship with God gives me great comfort, encouragement, strength, focus, and purpose during times of stress.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." -- Philippians 4:13 NKJV
 2) Reconnect with your spouse. Or get married if you're single (like me). Next to your relationship with God, no other relationship in your life will be as important, or have more potential for greatness, Your spouse will be (or should be) your best friend and confidant, your helpmate, a shoulder to cry on, the one person who will always care about you, and the one person you can always trust. Of course, it is a two-way street - you have to be there for your spouse. So be there.

Honestly, this is the one area of my prepping where I have failed. I am not married and never have been. When I was in my 20s, I thought staying single was so smart. Now that I am older, I realize how stupid I was in my 20s. I could, and someday might, write a really long essay listing the many ways not being married has hindered me in my life. Folks, don't take your spouse for granted. You really are lucky to have him/her.}

3) Reconnect with family, friends, neighbors... Improve existing relationships and work on building new, positive relationships. Be a part of your community. Join a local church or synagogue. Meet your neighbors. Participate. Volunteer.

My Grandparents and their generation survived the Great Depression and WWII by doing two somewhat contradictory things - by being self-reliant and by helping each other (neighbor helping neighbor). We need solid relationships in our lives, positive relationships with our spouses and families, our friends and neighbors, and others in our communities.  Do you have solid relationships in your life? People you can count on, and who can count on you, when the chips are down?

4) Don't be afraid of "weeding out" toxic people from your life. We all have toxic people in our lives. People who seem to exist in a constant state of chaos; people who drain us of our energy (and sometimes our money); people who hurt us over and over again, and don't seem to care. Perhaps it is a relative. Or an old friend from your childhood. I'm not saying to dump people when they are going through a rough patch. But there are some folks whose "rough patch" seems to be their entire lives, and they refuse to do anything about it. Don't get sucked into their world of constant chaos, addictions, and bad decisions. Pray for them, help them if they are willing to try, then let them go.

5) Get rid of any addictions in your life - drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, whatever... - before any crisis. You do not want to have to deal with an addiction during a crisis. (See the Getting Help section below).

6) Relax. Laugh. Enjoy life. Be thankful. Don’t dwell on the negatives. Be a hopeful realist. It is important to understand the problems we face. Just don’t obsess over them. Instead, start working towards solutions. Acting to make positive changes, even small ones, will increase your confidence and encourage yourself, your family and your friends.

7) Reduce stress by taking up a fun hobby or two completely unrelated to prepping and survivalism.

8) Reconnect to God's creation. Spend time in nature. Take up outdoor hobbies such as gardening, hiking, fishing, camping and bird watching. Learn the names of trees, wildflowers and “weeds” native to your area. Learn what kinds of soils are in your region. Learn where your water comes from. Visit nearby parks and wildlife refuges. Visit your local natural history museum or botanical gardens. Learn the names of the birds and butterflies common to your backyard. Participate in the National Wildlife Federation's BackyardWildlife Habitat program.

 9) Get enough sleep (for adults, that is at least 7 hours a night on a consistent basis). I know. Most people claim they can "get by" on less, but really they are fooling themselves. Lack of sleep wrecks havoc on our mental health. Sleep is also often overlooked in regards to our physical health. Being constantly sleep deprived is really bad, mentally and physically.

10) Be a life-long learner. Read. Take classes. Improve your job skills. Learn about personal finance. Study permaculture. Learn useful skills such as auto mechanics, small-engine repair, carpentry and home repair. Learn first aid and CPR. Learn to sew, and to preserve food. Learn how to save seeds. Learn how to hunt, fish and forage for wild foods. Learn the skills your grandparents had.

This will give you confidence based on real reasons (as opposed to the empty "positive self-image" pushed by the PC crowd).

A Bonus Thought:
"For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." -- Proverbs 23:7 NKJV
We are our thoughts, so be mindful what you think.  If you dwell on life's negatives, you will become a negative person. If you constantly think about all the reasons you will probably fail, you will fail. If you think yourself a confident, happy, capable person, you will become one. This isn't wishful thinking, but creating a mindset that will eventually determine your destiny. 

Where to Get Help* 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Veteran's Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline – 1-877-726-4727 
(Get general information on mental health and locate treatment services in your area. Speak to a live person, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.)

Refer to the article Finding Help: When to Get It and Where to Go on the Mental Health America website. 

Local clergy (pastors, priests, rabbis) often will be able to refer you to local programs, support groups, and counselors that can help.

Addicted to Tobacco? Quitting Smoking (on the American Cancer Society website) 

Addicted to Alcohol? Alcoholics Anonymous

Addicted to Drugs? Narcotics Anonymous 

*Getting right with God is a very important part of getting help. I encourage everyone to pray, read the Bible, and attend the church of your choice. Not sure about God? Talk to a local minister or priest. Or read The Roman Road. Or check out Peace with God. Or check out Journey to Orthodoxy.
This article replaces an earlier article I published on the topic in 2014.

Review: Bud K Neck Knife
This is a review of a Bud K Neck Knife that I've owned for a few years. I mostly wear it when walking my dog along the trails in the woods beside my neighborhood, as well as when I go jogging.  But it could be used for numerous other purposes, too. In addition to the knife, the sheath has a built-in whistle, which could be very useful in certian circumstances.

This knife is surprisingly inexpensive (less than $10)  for its quality. Here are the details: total length of the tanto-style knife itself is 6.75 inches. The cutting edge is 3 inches. In its sheath, it checks in at 7.5 inches. It is designed to be quite light weight, with the knife, sheath, and cord combined weighing less than 3 ounces. The full-tang knife is a black anodized 440 stainless steel. It came out-of-the-box relatively sharp. Overall, both the knife and the sheath & whistle seem well-made.

The knife snaps in place upside-down in the ABS sheath, which hangs by a cord from your neck. You can adjust the cord so that the knife hangs at the desired level on your chest. You could also easily replace the cord with different cordage or even a ball-chain if you wished. The sheath has a built-in whistle, which is quite loud.

The snap-in system works quite well. I've had this knife for almost four years, and have never had it fall out of its sheath, even when I'm being quite active. It still seems to hold as firmly and securely as when I first got it.

This shouldn't be your primary fixed-blade knife, of course, but it works great for my purposes. Use it for when you don't won't to wear a belt knife (such as I do when walking my dog around the neighborhood, or jogging), or to have as a back-up. It is light enough to throw into a backpack, book bag, pocket book, or brief case without adding a lot of weight.  It would also fit nicely into the glove compartment or door pocket of a vehicle. For these purposes, I give this neck knife a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

It is currently available on Amazon for less than $10, which I consider a good buy for this neck knife.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Testing Prepper Gear - Two Wins and a Fail

I recently had the opportunity to field test three pieces of my prepper gear. All three pieces of gear are items I purchased and kept in my survival bag (a.k.a. bug-out bag). 

Two of the items worked very well and will remain in my survival bag. The third item proved to be a complete fail, and has been permanently removed from the bag. I also learned a couple of important lessons from this exercise. Here are the results:

Pocket Chainsaw
The Pocket Chainsaw - Worked extremely well. I was able to cut down and cut up a 9+ inch diameter cherry tree with nothing but my pocket chainsaw and my own muscle power. I did learn a few things: 1) A gas-powered chainsaw would have been much easier and faster, of course, but it and a can of gas won't fit in your bug-out  bag. This is a viable alternative. 2) You need to have a lot of strength and stamina to really use this - fitness matters. By the way, using a pocket chainsaw is a GREAT upper body workout! 3) Wear gloves (you should include a pair of work gloves in your bug-out bag anyway). 

The Laplander Folding Saw
The Laplander Folding  Saw - My folding Laplander saw was a smashing success. I used it to saw up a lot of branches between a half-inch and 3-inches thick. It cut up those branches easily. This saw is very sharp and tough!  It definitely earned a permanent spot in my survival bag.  

The Light-weight Hatchet -  Having a light-weight hatchet in your bug-out bag sounds like a good idea, but in reality it proved to be a complete fail. The sharpness of the blade wasn't really an issue - it was decently sharp. Rather, the problem was that this hatchet was simply too light-weight. Without any weight behind it, you simply cannot generate enough force to really cut anything know matter how hard you swing it.  Normal hatchets have a wedge head with the heavy hammer part of the hatchet directly behind the cutting edge, allowing the force of your swing to be multiplied by the weight of the hatchet. By taking away that heavy wedge in order to make the hatchet lighter, it destroys the effectiveness of the hatchet. A complete fail, and I have removed it from my survival bag.

This field test of my prepper gear points out why you should use all your prepper gear before the SHTF. It will both help you learn how to use your gear and help you determine what gear really works and what gear only sounds like a good idea.  So, I am adopting a new slogan - KNOW YOUR GEAR!  

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Patriots' Prayers -- Last Edition

Thank you for Praying for America! 

Visit the prayer Page of my website:

Image is of the Interior of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.