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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Your Survival Readiness Level--A True Self Assessment, by Gina W.

By definition survival preparedness means attaining the state of having been made ready to outlive another person, thing, or event. Years pass by reminding us that life is short and meant to be enjoyed. People concentrate on material items but often overlook factors involved in determining the comfort level of a new living situation. A true self assessment now will determine whether life is barely survivable or comfortable.

People forget how the mind body element affects lifestyle changes. It is important to assess your actions before a situation takes away your ability to feed the habits that control you. Reflect on the past week of your life. How much of your day do you sit? If you add up the time spent watching television, typing on a computer, reading, driving a vehicle, and sleeping, you will see that a lack of movement outweighs your time spent participating in physical activities.

Now imagine how long you would spend sitting in a survival situation? Could we chop enough wood to heat a house? When was the last time we walked several miles to reach our destination? Do we produce gardens without a motorized tiller, or tend to the weeds on a daily basis without experiencing back pain? Would working our muscles on a daily basis result in overstrained and dehydrated bodies? What about the other people we are sharing our lives with? Could they carry their weight in a survival situation or would we have to find a way to carry the weight for them?

Today should be the day that we start training our muscles for additional activity that our bodies may encounter in the future. Changing our sedentary lifestyle and keeping our bodies hydrated plays an important role in body performance and repair. The ability to perform tasks and awaken the next day feeling refreshed will increase our quality of life whether our living situation changes or stays the same.

Another fact that should encourage us to start moving deals with the medicines we put into our bodies. Diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol affect our health. Many times obesity and being unfit initiate the disease which invades our systems. In this day we depend on medicines to fix our broken parts. I have been fortunate to control my diabetes through diet and exercise, but I must consider the facts that medicines may not be as easily available in the future. Becoming physically fit now will help to ward off or slow down illnesses that require medication as treatment. We must realize that some medicines may not be available or may be too expensive to purchase in the days ahead.

Upon waking do you automatically reach for a cup of coffee, cigarette, or cup of tea? Throughout the day how many times do chocolate bars or sodas pass by your lips? An addiction to caffeinated items or nicotine wreaks havoc on the mind and body when abruptly cut from the system. Withdrawal symptoms cause even the strongest person to feel like they are losing their sanity if not ready to battle the changes attacking their body.

I encountered the physical, psychological, and mental pains when we moved to a remote island in Alaska. Living 30 minutes from town by plane or three hours by boat meant groceries arrived once in a two week period. I decided that this would be the time to quit smoking. I flew in feeling confident. Bite the bullet, go cold turkey, dispose of a habit I hated but never conquered. In this situation failure would not be an option. How could I smoke if there were no cigarettes and no way to purchase a pack?

Less than 24 hours passed before the withdrawal effects began choking the confidence from me. Chest pains, headaches, dizziness attacked my body. Unfortunately for my family this was the least painful part of my experiment. The moodiness, irritability, and depression arrived. I turned from Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde. No one was safe from my wrath. I hid in the house, flipping from a rabid dog to a tearful mess. I could not think, or focus on anything. I had become irrational over giving up a habit I hated because of the control it had on my body.

You may not smoke cigarettes, but it is time to assess the caffeine and other chemicals you put in your body on a daily basis. Try going one day without any exposure to your habit or addiction. Then take a good look at how it affects you physically, psychologically, and emotionally. If it were erased from your life without any warning could you live with yourself? Could other people live with you?

When it comes to entertainment how much of the digital age controls your pleasure? In survival, quality of life must be rediscovered. We must relearn to use our bodies and minds in ways that we either have not used in a long time, or as in our children’s cases, never had to use. If a family chose to turn off the television, computers, and radio for one week, they could learn a lot about themselves and the people they live with.

We must find ways to be entertained by low tech ways. Reading books, playing cards board games, or talking to each other can become alternate choices for entertainment. Our first month living in remote Alaska taught us that without television, evening hours seemed to increase. We found ourselves going to bed several hours earlier when there was no computer or television to occupy our minds. Spending those evenings without using technology we learned to entertain ourselves, and it revealed how much time we had to communicate with each other. We no longer whined about not having any time to talk; now we found ourselves sitting in silence searching for things to talk about.

A positive attitude and a curious nature can ease the shock if technology is removed from one’s lifestyle. Is your glass half full or half empty? Finding something good in negative or stressful situations can bring about some peace to help get you through. A curious nature can open up the world in unexpected ways. Learning something new can encourage you to want to learn more.
As a parent when my child would refuse to try something new I would ask them how they knew they disliked it if they had never tried it. As adults we need to remember that also. Sometimes stuck in a rut we forget that trying something we have never done may give us joys we never dreamed of experiencing.

The next time you look at a flower, or a butterfly, or ladybug; stop. Observe the movements, or colors, or the small parts that make up this living item. If we are lucky it will bring back the child-like side in us where our mouths drop open in awe at the beauty in front of us. Letting ourselves experience life through the eyes or our hidden child can make life a bit easier to handle. We have to remember to ask ourselves one question when stuck in a bad situation. If I died tomorrow would this have been worth getting upset over? If the answer is no then take a deep breath and move on.

Beauty brought out by our curious nature and positive attitude does bring us around to one more point that is important in keeping a strong mental outlook on lifestyle changes.

Faith
Practicing and studying your faith now will increase the level of comfort in a survival situation. Having a belief in a higher power can give people strength when all seems lost and will provide the hope needed to make life feel safe and secure.

These are the things we should force ourselves to look at when preparing for a survival situation. Could you survive days of physical labor, cooking from scratch, gardening for your food, chopping wood, carrying water, lack of entertainment from televisions, computers, and radios or walking for miles to get to your destination? Are you physically and psychologically strong enough to survive without being stopped by cramping muscles, irritable mood swings, or boredom and depression? Are you prepared to keep a positive outlook alive to survive in a world where most people of today would find it unbearable, and be strong enough to repeat the process tomorrow? These are some items we need to focus on and realize that accomplishing them are as much of a necessity as having enough food, water and protective shelter so that we not only stay alive but are able to live our lives. Making the most of each day whether in today’s world or tomorrows depends on us deciding the level of comfort we want to experience and how determined we are to change now for a comfortable quality of life in the future.

The three conventional survival necessities are water, food, and shelter. Preparing yourself mentally, physically and emotionally will allow you to use these three basics to give you a life worthy of living. I challenge everyone to take a true self assessment and add your own well being as a necessity in preparation.