Before we subject ourselves to a challenging situation, it would be an advantage to know what stresses we are likely to face and more importantly how we will react to them. Being aware of what we will have to deal with will eliminate a lot of uncertainty that can weaken our resolve. By identifying these stresses it’s possible in some cases to eliminate them or formulate a method of dealing with them. The only way you will know how you will react is to experience them. All life is a learning curve which instils knowledge, its called experience which is priceless. Armed with common sense and drawing on experience will get you out of most situations. But how do you get the experience and how will you know what your reactions will be.
The answer is to push yourself to the limit while being carefully monitored. It’s no good if I plan to climb Everest and train for it in the Brecon Beacons. The training must be as hard as, or even harder than the actual adventure. The saying “Train hard fight easy “, is very true. Add to this “you cannot cheat the gym”, will put you in good shape for the big event. You must put the effort in which helps eliminate all the nagging doubts that may jeopardise your success, like am I fit enough, can I carry this weight, am I going in the right direction. It’s of little use when something happens and you say “I wished I had done this, or I should have done that.” So understanding your body will greatly help you overcome adversity. There are many stresses to face all requiring different responses. How do you respond when exhausted? And can I make a decision when soaking wet? Its questions like these that you must ask yourself.
Knowing how you respond to hunger, what is it like to be deprived of sleep, how you react when thirsty. Can you deal with pain, and how do you react to fear. How does the cold affect you and what is your tolerance to heat. Have an idea before you are exposed. The majority of people see fear and pain as a disadvantage, whereas in fact they are positive survival assets. Without these emotions we would do stupid things, and pay the consequences. Fear stops us doing something we are unsure of, or makes us think before we act. Knowledge overcomes fear and once we understand the risks and dangers we can take the necessary precautions overcoming the problem.
Don’t try to hide your fears it is nothing to be ashamed of. The moment you do something dangerous and not get a buzz is the time to stop that pursuit. Fear makes us revise our actions and take notice. Parachutists, climbers and divers all experience apprehension, but they overcome it because they are confident in their preparation, equipment and training. By controlling fear in yourself you can control fear in others.
The down side of fear is panic. If it is not checked fear can lead to panic and all is lost. Fear can root you to the spot denying you of all coordination and clouding your judgement. When confronted by an unexpected situation, control your emotions by breathing. Stand tall with the feet shoulder width apart and breathe through the nose for a count of ten. Hold the breath for ten seconds before exhaling forcibly through the mouth to a ten count. This slows everything down allowing you to put things in perspective.
Pain although unpleasant is the way the body cries for help. It draws attention to an injured part to prevent further injury. If we know what’s causing the pain and more importantly how to treat the injury, we can overcome this, or greatly reduce the impact of it. Loneliness and isolation have to be faced. It’s always best to have a companion but you must be able to rely on yourself when the need arises. You can con other people to how good you are but you can’t fool yourself. One of the biggest fears you may have to face is “fear of your own weakness”. So put the effort in leave no nagging doubts that may work against you when the going gets tough. A person in unknown territory or experiencing a new problem can let their imagination run riot. This can lead to illogical behaviour with serious consequences. Knowledge will reinforce self belief giving you confidence eliminating these thoughts.
Spend time to run through your proposed adventure, looking for all the dangers. Ask yourself ‘what will I do if this happens’. Imagine the worse possible scenario and come up with a solution. Have a contingency plan which you can execute if things go wrong. This way you won’t be caught out, it’s when you don’t address the problems that mistakes and accidents happen. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Get to know your body and develop your senses. With time you can develop a 6th type of sense which helps keep you safe and make the correct choices. You get a feel for the ground; can forecast the weather, judge distances, and spot potential dangers. Now and again you feel a hunch or get an uneasy feeling, pay attention to these they could save your life.
First know how to survive in a temperate zone in all weathers. The cold is probably the hardest to survive in. It numbs the mind and any mistake is unforgiving. Nothing lives permanently in the extreme areas of the world they migrate to more forgiving areas. Only man goes there to exploit mineral wealth. High mountains are devoid of life and problems get greater with altitude. By getting out of our comfort zone we soon learn the essentials and acquire new skills. Don’t let the comfort of home go against you when you find yourself on limited resources. Again it’s only with practice that you will attain these skills that can be applied anywhere, not just in the wilderness.
Lofty Wiseman, Trueways Survival Expert.