This is not coming from a survival expert or a seasoned prepper. I myself am barely more than a beginner. Of course, living in Oklahoma, land of tornadoes, wild fires, intense heat and drought, devastating ice storms, large hail and now earthquakes, you generally grow up knowing to be at least somewhat prepared for disaster. But as far as seriously preparing to survive a true, out-of-the-ordinary SHTF scenario, my husband and I are just getting started.
One lesson I’ve learned is how overwhelming it can be, once you’ve made the decision to try to reasonably prepare as much as possible for every disaster, terrorist attack, zombie invasion or breakdown of society imaginable. Suddenly, you find yourself able to imagine a LOT that can go wrong, and it’s easy to become discouraged once you realize it’s simply not possible to prepare for every single possibility that you read about or that crosses your mind. There’s also a tendency to panic, to want to do everything possible to get ready NOW, even if it means running up a lot of debt or spending all of your savings to make sure there’s a year’s worth of food and water in your pantry. Just last week, my husband had to talk me down from wanting to sell our house immediately and move in with my mom out in the country and start a mini farm in her back yard.
Here are some steps I’ve learned to help mitigate the sense of panic and overwhelm.
1. Breathe. Nothing has happened yet. That means there’s still time. The worst thing you can do in any situation is panic.
2. Start small. Identify the thing that’s most likely to happen in your area, and focus on getting ready for that. In my region, with winter about to come on, that would be ice storms. So we started out by making sure we have enough provisions to get us through several weeks of being stranded in our home without any power (something that actually happened to thousands of Oklahomans in December of 2007). Since we have no fireplace, we also made sure we have plenty of ways to stay warm if we lose power, as well as ways to heat and cook our food.
The other event that we decided it should be a priority to prepare for is the possibility of a major earthquake. The fault lines in our state have become more active, and although the largest earthquake to date only did minimal damage, the possibility of a major quake in our area seems much more likely now than it did only a month ago.
I will write another article about exactly what steps we’ve taken to prepare for these eventualities, but for now the point is that these steps have prepared us for the immediate future and given us a solid base on which to build.
3. Do what you can, when you can. You don’t need to spend a fortune building your stockpile right this minute. Just pick one or two things to buy extra of every time you go to the store, or decide on an amount—even if just five dollars—to spend on canned goods and imperishable items each week. You’ll be amazed at how quickly it adds up. Additionally, try to do one thing each week, or at the very least each month, to educate yourself about survival skills, or to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on our current social system.
4. If you are religious, pray. Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed and like I can’t possibly do enough to prepare for what’s coming, I turn to God and cast my cares on Him. While I believe He wants us to be diligent and plan to be in a position to be a source of help instead of needing help in a disaster, I don’t think He wants us to worry or panic. Reminding myself that I have a Heavenly provider who has a plan and purpose for my life goes a long way toward helping me stay calm when everything starts to seem too big for me to handle.
5. Get off the Internet and go outside. While the Internet can be a fantastic source of information on survival and disaster preparedness, it can also be a source of stress and fear. The fact is that nobody knows for certain what will happen to our society in the wake of an economic or government collapse, or a major attack of some sort. Everything out there is pure speculation, and those doing the speculation have a tendency to assume the worst. There is wisdom in this, since it’s good to prepare for the worst-case scenario. But just because things CAN get that bad, does not mean that they WILL get that bad. If you are starting to find that you are terrified of the future or are starting to feel despair, it’s time to stop reading about the gloom and doom, go outside and appreciate the fact that we’re still here, our loved ones are still safe, and there’s still time to get ready.