3 Tips to Manage Fear in a Survival Situation

Use fear to your advantage, and don't let it get the best of you

Controlling your fear
Spiders, snakes, and bats are common sources of fear—but don't let their presence get into your head.Tim MacWelch

Are your kids scared of the dark? Do you get nervous around snakes or spiders? There are good reasons for these common fears. Snakes can deliver a dangerous bite, as can spiders, and it's easy to get hurt in the darkness when you can't see where you're going. Fear is our natural instinct around dangerous things, and it's there to keep us safe. It's very important, however, to keep that fear from taking over. Here are three ways to keep terror from taking control of you.

Recognize the Source of Fear

Survival situations typically involve some scary elements. Getting lost, dealing with predators, and facing injuries alone can be frightening events. It’s important to recognize the fact that we are feeling fear, and identify whether these fears are reasonable or not. Rational fear can keep us safe, while panic can take us further into harm’s way.

Understand the Physiology of Fright

When we become stressed or fearful, we are often at the mercy of the cocktail of hormones and chemicals that pump through our bodies. It’s quite common that this flush of hormones will lead to panic. This unrestrained fear is a common response to crisis, and it can manifest itself in many ways. If you panic, you may run around frantically. Or you may be frozen in fear and be unable to move. You may even become overwhelmed by emotion, screaming, crying or lashing out. Any of these responses could get you injured, and then you’ll have a whole new set of problems.

Harness the Power of Fear

Our natural feelings of fear can often keep us out of life-or-death situations, but danger isn’t always avoidable. When a situation gets scary, you can use that fear to help you survive. Fright can distract us from pain and help us to stay more alert. An adrenalin surge can even give a frightened person some extra strength. Put fear to work, rather than becoming its victim.

What’s the scariest situation you have faced in the backcountry? Please share your story by leaving a comment.