4 Tips to Keep Fear from Wrecking Your Prepping Plans

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Fear can be the ultimate motivator. People in a plane that is rapidly plummeting to the ground are suddenly motivated to clasp their hands together and hastily scream a prayer that they haven’t felt compelled to whisper since elementary school. Some live by the philosophy that without fear there would never be an opportunity to exhibit great courage. I disagree that fear should be anyone’s ultimate motivator, and I believe fear-fueled prepping is dangerous and foolish.   Prepping because you have given fear a name such as an F5 tornado, a great flood, civil war, an EMP, a worldwide pandemic, etc. could prove deadly for you and your loved ones. Don’t stock up on food and supplies out of fear, instead be confident in your abilities, gather what you can for any given situation and make it part of who you are, how you think, and how you react.

Fear and prepping don’t mix because the act of preparing for anything requires focus and strategy.  Fear is paralyzing and can cause a person to push aside sound judgment. It speaks to the rational mind and causes panic which then turns people into illogical, wide-eyed animals. If you are trying to convince a spouse to get on board with your preparedness mindset, the worst thing you can do is to try to motivate them with fear. First of all, it can backfire and fear can cause some people to not even want to get out of bed in the morning. If you start preaching to them about the pandemic that is all but at their doorstep they might conclude that the end is near and there is no point in going to the grocery store or taking the dog for a walk. Even if you are able to convince them to join your small elite army, they very well could turn into a crazed trigger-happy liability.

Medically and psychologically, fear can wreak havoc on your system. It can affect the immune system, cause cardiovascular damage, and gastrointestinal problems. The body suffers with fear, but the mind is where it really causes problems. Your long-term memories are affected as well as the ability to read non-verbal cues. Decision making is impaired in negative ways and a person is apt to fall prey to impulsivity of actions. In simpler terms, a person could forget where they buried all their caches, fly into an irrational rage, shoot a hole in a water barrel because they mistook it for a zombie, and then drop dead from a heart attack. All this could be avoided had they not been operating out of an unyielding, dark, and portentous emotion.

You should be prepared for whatever may come your way, and you should also have some survival skills under your belt for good measure. Most of all, check fear at the door and develop strategies that ensure a cool head and the ability to maintain a panic-free demeanor at all times.

A tale of two Preppers

Imagine the scenario where PREPPER A has worked themselves into a lather over their fear of Ebola. They have feverishly prepared themselves for a worldwide pandemic. They research the topic endlessly, buy every medical book on Amazon, take some First Aid classes, stock up on medical supplies, buy Hazmat suits, etc. They have sacrificed sleep, quality time with loved ones, and freaked out members of their family only to drive home one day and find that their house and all their preps have burned to the ground. The next day the world is thrown into chaos because of financial collapse and they have nothing they relied on except the knowledge in their head. If there is nothing in their head except ideas of how to deal with a pandemic and the ability to use specific supplies then they are in deep trouble. Now let’s take PREPPER B. This person has stored up general preps such as food, medical supplies, and precious metals. They have invested time in learning the survival skills that will keep them alive in any climate and any chaotic situation. Not only is PREPPER B better than A in many ways, they also have one more huge advantage. They possess the ability to keep their emotions in check and maintain a level head even when circumstances seem at their worst. They will be an asset to their family and community.


Irrational fear can derail your prepping plans. Learn to control it now.


Here four things that can assuage the fearful mind:

  1. Identify: Identify what you are fearful of and what about it causes you the most dread. Now recognize that you have the ability to conquer your fear and that what tortures you most is the unknown. Realize you cannot determine the future and it is impossible to prepare for EVERY scenario.
  1. Skills: Work on learning skills that will test your grit. Imagine scenarios where you don’t have anything to fall back on. Determine the skill set needed for these situations and practice them until you are confident in your abilities.
  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff: Make a list of things that you want to accomplish, but don’t assign a timeline. Be diligent, but not OCD.
  1. Remember: Use scripture or a phrase that keeps your emotions in check. Choose something calming that succinctly defines what your state of mind should be in when you are overcome with the wrong emotions. I, personally, find Psalm 23:4 soothing and comforting. This verse gives me confidence and stabilizes my mind.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Remember, if you have worked hard to fill your pantry, stored up emergency items, and have researched everything you need to know to survive you can still be gripped with anxiety which stems from fear. Understanding that you are where you are and that when you go to bed at night you will be satisfied with what you have and make do if the need arises is key to your stability.

Here is a short list of skills that should be firmly planted in your head as well as your loved ones. And I highly recommend taking the time to teach your children survival skills. Ages will vary, but don’t underestimate the usefulness of our youth. Kids are capable to do much more than most people give them credit for.

Knowing how to treat a wound is an important prepper skill.

  1. Build a fire, especially in the event you don’t have matches and newspaper.
  2. Forage for food that isn’t going to kill you.
  3. Build a shelter.
  4. Run 4 miles without dying. If you have health problems that keep you from running, then at least be able to walk 3 miles.
  5. Find drinking water and know how to produce clean, drinkable water without a manufactured filter.
  6. Plant a seed and grow food. Even if it’s spinach. Then learn how to save the seed from what you produce.
  7. Treat a wound and be able to clean it properly to keep infection at bay.
  8. Fire a weapon with a moderate level of proficiency and clean the weapon afterwards. (If you are working with a minor, then most importantly, if they have never shot a firearm then take them somewhere so they can shoot at a target and see that real guns put real big holes in people and things. Guns aren’t toys and I believe if more people taught their kids about weapons, there would be fewer accidental shootings).
  9. Know how to dress for the weather and use layers properly. Dying from overexposure is a bad way to go and can be avoided with proper layers.
  10. Learn how to read the sky for direction and weather. This skill has been overlooked with the introduction of the GPS.

I will end with this quote because I love it. It sums up the experience and disdain I have for fear. There is no one alive that has never been afraid; what sets us apart and makes us strong and more capable of survival is the ability to conquer it.

“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”- Thomas Paine


  1. LWJ

    March 13, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    I am just curious about one of the tasks that you should be able to do, and how it really pertains to most tasks people will need to do in an oh sh*t situation? Where does the run four miles without dying have any pratical value? Is this a four mile ruck run with gear and weapons cross country, or just four miles on a paved road in workout clothes? Personally I would skip that requirement and focus on wind sprints to get out of a bad spot quickly. Learn how to evacuate a person and remove them from a bad spot ie Fireman carry, or drag them out. Be able to climb a fence or a wall. Basic tasks like that are going to be far more useful then a jog down the road in your gym shoes. I would also up the walking requirement to about 12 miles with a moderate load.

    • Prepp or Die

      March 14, 2015 at 10:28 am

      I think the point is that you be in shape. If you are being pursued by an overwhelming force you have to be able to stick and move. Chief Joseph of the Nez Pierce had a fighting force of about 15 men, and a group of women children and old people to save. As the weaker larger slower group worked it’s way away from the US Calvary who wanted them dead, the fighting men weaved in and out giving the Calvary false targets and bloody noses. Those men had to go round the clock and at high speed to prevail against a heavier stronger force. They never gave up, and in the end it was the decision of Joseph to stop running rather than the fighting men’s lack of ability to fight that ended the pursuit. We need to be able to run 4 miles. Not just for our sakes, but also for those who God has charged us to keep.

      • LWJ

        March 14, 2015 at 10:43 am

        If we’re trying to break contact we’re going to be shooting and moving. Bounding over watch in reverse. One still has to have the energy to carry on, after bursts of activity. You need to be the pace car most of the time, not the race car.

      • Cornelia Adams

        March 14, 2015 at 6:17 pm

        You are correct in thinking the point is to be in shape, and I absolutely love your example of Chief Joseph!

    • Cornelia Adams

      March 14, 2015 at 6:05 pm

      You sound as though you are in excellent physical condition and that is commendable. You will be invaluable to your group and your abilities put you at an advantage. My husband is ex-military and is in excellent physical condition as well. If it were he and I alone, the physical issues of survival would be a non-issue, but I was trying to list attainable goals for people in a group that consists of children, babies, or the elderly. I highly recommend going beyond these basics and to continually challenge every member in your group to do more and strive to reach their goals. Workout clothes are optional.

      • LWJ

        March 14, 2015 at 6:49 pm

        I do have small children, and older folks in the group. The ability to carry somebody to safety is more of a priority then the ability to run 4 miles. The ability to drag a speed goat 1/2 mile to the road is a priority. Physical fitness should be more in tune with the tasks you will face on a routine basis. Climbing over fences, dragging a loaded sled in the cold wearing waders, etc.

        • Cornelia Adams

          March 14, 2015 at 7:43 pm

          Speed goat???

          • LWJ

            March 14, 2015 at 8:16 pm

            Antelope, they are abundant out here. Except this last year, in the area we hunt in…

        • Prepp or Die

          March 15, 2015 at 11:34 am

          You must be from Wyo Bro! I haven’t heard anyone call them “speed goats” since I lived in Rawlins 🙂

          • LWJ

            March 15, 2015 at 1:26 pm

            Yup that I am. We even took the MW championship in basketball this year!

  2. usmarinestanker

    March 13, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    Good article. That list of skills is invaluable.

    I think it’s rather interesting that as a nursing student I’ve never once learned how to set a broken bone, how to clean a wound, how to dress a wound, or how to set up a splint. In almost 2 years of specialized schooling I have zero knowledge of how to perform first aid except for CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.

    In the military I learned how to set a tourniquet, how to stop a sucking chest wound, how to make a splint, how to make a sling, and how to put compression on a bleeding wound.

    As a nurse, I get trained how to pass meds, how to start an IV, how to make people comfortable, and how to watch for signs of things going downhill so I can tell the doctor. We learn nothing about alternative/natural remedies because they’re “kooky” and “anti-science”. We do learn about how they negatively interact with Rx meds though.

    As it stands, paramedics and basic EMTs know more about emergency first aid than I do as a nurse. You’d think learning how to care for injuries without the benefit of a hospital and only basic supplies would be somewhere in the foundations of being a nurse? Glad I picked those skills up elsewhere.

    • Herman Nelson

      March 13, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      Hmmmm.. I have friends that are nurses. They’ve helped answer questions better than my own doctor has. Two of them started out as EMTs, working their way into ambulance time then going to school for nursing. Working ambulance gave them lots of real world experience.

      Something I would highly recommend is the SF medic manual. You have the basic knowledge, this will expand on it. I’ve had nurse friends read it and come back and say it’s worth it’s weight in gold.

      Look on the bright side, Tanker. You’ll be highly sought after just for having some type of medical skills. 🙂

    • Cornelia Adams

      March 14, 2015 at 5:49 pm

      Thanks you for you comment, and I agree that comprehensive first-aid skills are extremely valuable indeed. The skills I suggested were just a springboard. All of them should be expanded upon over time as well as tested periodically.

  3. Herman Nelson

    March 13, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    This is not about fear, it’s about building an “insurance policy”. People buy car, home and life insurance all the time without a blink of an eye. Life insurance pays out when you die. This policy pays out to keep you from dying. My policy is not a payment sent off to some remote company in the form of money. The money I invest into my policy stays at home, in various parts of the house and remote locations. I know when it’s “break glass in case of emergency” time, it’ll be there. Sorry, when the chips are down, the “good hands people” are not going to show up with firewood, sandwiches and bottled water. If you want to know where that’s going to come from- you’d best go look in the mirror and point at the face you see.

    Hmm… Good how-to books.. Soldier’s manual Level 1-4, Special Forces Medic Manual, FM 3-05-70, FM 21-76, ISO871 (combat life saver course). These are all available online. Just good ol’ country living books- the entire series of Foxfire books.

    • Cornelia Adams

      March 14, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      Thanks for reading and I appreciate the book suggestions. And you are correct that prepping is an insurance policy. Just as you can insure your life, car, home, and health you should ensure that your “Prepper Policy” is well rounded and covers all the bases.

  4. Bolofia

    March 14, 2015 at 11:46 am

    You make a very good point about skills and their impact on mitigating fear. One vital ingredient in Prepping is another “P” word – Practice. Just like a knife, honing a skill keeps it sharp. Honing builds confidence. Just a thought: An activity that combines the greatest number of essential skills is probably tactical camping.

    • Cornelia Adams

      March 14, 2015 at 6:28 pm

      Thanks for your comment and you make very good points. Working through something in your mind is never as good as testing it with hands on training. I would never expect to be able to fly a plane by reading the manual. Building intuitive muscle memory along with head knowledge about survival is essential and that is what practicing your skills will do.

      • Bolofia

        March 14, 2015 at 9:19 pm

        I engage in tactical outings several times a year. These typically span the four seasons because each one has its own challenges. What you have to deal with in February will certainly be different than July. Dry season camping involves different issues than you would experience during the monsoon weather that we have in the West and Southwest (July-September). The point is that you need to ‘practice’ your skills under varying seasonal weather conditions, elevations and geographies. Those experiences build confidence, which reduces fear.

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