Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Avoiding the deer-in-the-headlights moment when SHTF...

...or in any emergency, for that matter.  How to act decisively and calmly?

One method comes from top athletes:  do a mental dress rehearsal.  Visualize what actions you would take.  "Studies show that the parts of the brain that are used when thinking about a task are the same ones used when actually doing it," says sports psychologist Shane Murphy, Ph.D., editor of The Sport Psych Handbook.

Education plays a part as well.  Learning how to use a fire extinguisher at a class put on by the Fire Department means in an emergency, you can draw on your experience and education.  Knowing first aid [BTW, they're finding that mouth-to-mouth during CPR isn't necessary and may actually keep people from doing CPR in the first place] can save your own or someone else's life.

Keeping focus on the big picture is important:  "During training sessions, athletes are hyperaware of every move they make. But under the pressure of competition, overanalyzing what they're doing (say, a tennis swing or figure-skating jump) can lead to indecision and tightening up. The result? Costly mistakes. One way to calm an overactive mind is by using diversionary tactics, says Sian Beilock, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Chicago and author of Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To. For example, before making a free throw, some basketball players will distract themselves by concentrating on the logo written on the ball. And Beilock instructs golfers to count backward by threes—starting at 25—a few seconds before striking the ball on a crucial shot. When you're swallowed up by a wave of performance anxiety, try using the same technique." [ article]

Physically preparing plays a role as well, and has two parts.  Your personal physical fitness is always important, but never more so than during an emergency.  It could easily mean the difference between life and death, and there's never a better time to get physically fit than starting now.  Preparing in the sense of putting food by, having alternate means of heating water, washing dishes and clothes and oneself, etc., is the other half.

Having a bug out bag ready to go in an emergency is invaluable if you have to leave your location.  That means, if you're at work and have to head home, if you're out at Big Orange Box Household Fix-it Supply Store and need to get home, if you're at home and have to go pick up the DH/DW and/or the kids, etc.

Preparedness has both a physical and mental component.  All the preps in the world won't help if you freeze or panic.