What is a Prepper’s Most Valuable Tool?

Usually we think of our most valuable tool as something like our guns, our food or water storage, or maybe some specific material tool, but what I want to discuss is how we as individuals are our own most valuable tool.  We, as people, are the ones that will ultimately determine how we react during certain scenarios using the bodies and minds that God gave us.  So above all else what we really need to build and prepare for a TEOTWAWKI scenario is ourselves.

Preparing your mind:

I talk a lot in many of my posts about the importance of knowledge and learning skills. (Here are a few that I stress the importance of learning and education: What is an IFAK and why every prepper should have one? and Why Training and Knowledge is important for preppers.)  One of the biggest problems that will come out of a TEOTWAWKI scenario is the stress and mental breakdown that happens in terribly taxing situations. How can stress be minimized? Here are a couple ways to limit stress.

Education and learning of physical skills

This does not have to be a formal education.  I actually learned mechanics skills with a little help from my dad and no classes whatsoever (I have rebuilt engines, transfer cases and done many other things with just my knowledge, a Chiltons book and the internet).  Learning happens best when you get out, do things and learn from your mistakes.

With the internet, there is no excuse to not continue learning new things.  I feel that I have learned more about finance and economics from watching lectures and Youtube videos of people like Milton Friedman, Peter Schiff, Tom Woods, Walter Williams, Walter Block and others than I ever got in college (I have a Bachelor’s degree in finance). While not all the information on the internet is correct, and you shouldn’t believe everything you learn on the internet without doing more research, there is plenty of good info. You just have to try it out and see if it works (unless it can be dangerous).

Being Materially Prepared

Having the stuff you need can keep you much less stressed.  The main reason most people are so stressed is because they may not know where their next meal will come from or how they are even going to stay warm with no furnace.  So the more you can do before an end of the world situation, the less you will have to worry about when the scenario has come.

If you don’t know what you need or how much you need, try going tent camping or try not using electricity for a week. That will give you an idea of what you may need.  This may be solar panels, alternative cooking supplies, or other things such as first aid kits.  There are about a million posts from many different blogs that can help you know what you need.

Learn Problem Solving Skills, Mechanical Skills and Relaxation Skills

These three things are some of the most important things you can do to combat stress and bad decision making in a TEOTWAWKI or survival scenario.  Learning a skill is great, but being able to really adapt that skill to solve a problem is very important.  In the best of circumstances, the things we practice for can change, so being able to problem solve and adapt is going to be key to keeping a level head.  There is almost always more than one way to solve a problem, being able to solve the problem efficiently and quickly can save you time and allow you to address other issues which will relieve stress. Also, the sense of accomplishment that comes from fixing a problem or situation can be a morale booster. Here is a good article regarding problem solving.

The reason having mechanical skills are important is because they are a good complement for problem solving.  Mechanical skills can help you leverage your own strength and save you the physical energy that will be severely needed.  In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, electricity and fuel will become extremely scarce, so most things must be done by hand.  Tools and other useful items will inadvertently get broken and you will have to fix them. Understanding how a contraption works just by looking at it will put you ahead of the game and will allow you to get to the heart of the problem instead of assessing the problem for extended periods of time.

All of these skills are learned before a situation occurs to help stop the stress from ever appearing.  What happens if you have done these things, but you are still stressed?  Relaxation skills can help.  I am not talking about being lazy or lying in bed all day to relieve the stress, but rather quick little things that can stop the stress for the time being to allow for decent decision making.  These can be different for everybody so finding the thing that can calm you down and relieve stress will depend on what works best for you. You’ll have to practice a few of them to find out what helps you relieve stress best. Just a few suggestions as to what you may do and what some others do is: pray (this seems to relieve stress for me even though I am blessed with very little stress), breathing exercises (good for shooting), closing your eyes to focus, coming back to the problem later if it is not extremely pressing, meditate, or yoga. There are other stress-reducing activities not listed, so find what calms you down and use and develop that skill (especially if you are an easily stressed person). WebMd has a good article about some techniques.

Preparing your Body

I do already have a decent article on this called Prepper fit vs. Gym fit, but I just wanted to add a few little things to it.  The main thing is to be fit to a point that you can comfortably and efficiently do the things you need to do.  So like expressed in the article above, you don’t have to be the hulk to be fit (and in some circumstances this can be worse), but you will want to be in shape and physically ready for the challenges of what may come.

Exercise in many different ways

I am a person that normally tries to go to the gym at least 2-3 times a week and I actually enjoy it.  One of the things I really hate though is sprinting and running so I sometimes don’t do it.  I am also a fan of playing sports so when a friend at church asked if I wanted to play on the church softball team, I was stoked.  When you think about softball, it seems like a pretty tame game and not too difficult.  What I learned is it was anything but easy.  I have been playing a lot of outfield and thus have been sprinting to catch the ball as well as sprinting when I’m up to bat.  I had come home from practice pretty sore and I wasn’t even playing at full speed.  When we had our first game I hit something that shouldn’t have been a single so I sprinted as fast as I could to first base.  As soon as I got there I felt as if I had pulled every muscle in my leg. Even that night I was aching terribly.  After some more practice I seem to be less and less sore as everything is stretched out and my body has adapted. What I realized was two things: one, I don’t mind sprinting and running if it is for a cause like trying to catch a fly ball and two, I realized that I would not have wanted to be in a TEOTWAWKI situation in which I had to sprint, only to find out that I either couldn’t do it or that it took me down for a day or two because I was so sore.  This is tactically not a good situation to be in.

Have Fun with your Exercising

Make sure you continue to exercise and prepare your body.  There are most likely two reasons people don’t like exercising: it is difficult (that is something you just have to get over) and it is boring.  Well exercising does not have to be boring.  Even though my legs were aching, I really wanted to get back out there and play and practice softball.  Find something you really enjoy that require a higher level of fitness and do them. If you don’t like the gym then don’t go there.  Hiking, playing sports or gardening may be more to your liking, so do those.  If you have a workout regimen that you find boring, unless you are an extremely driven person, it will be pushed to the wayside and be forgotten or you’ll find yourself making excuses as to why you can’t do it anymore.

Getting to Hulk level might not be good for you

For most of us this isn’t normally a problem, but it could be for those that are gym rats.  First off, if you are getting to a Hulk level using some type of steroid, one, it’s not good for you, and two, if you are a person that has an extremely low body fat percentage, steroids may be hazardous to your health.  It is common knowledge that our bodies burn our stored reserves of fat first before muscle and more important organs. During SHTF, even the best prepared people may still be rationing and not eating as much as they did before.  If you are a person that has an extremely low body fat percentage, your body will burn up the small amount of fat and start burning up the muscle you have tried so hard to get.  So having the low body fat and extreme amounts of muscle may be of either no real benefit or it may be counterproductive. For instance, you may be more likely to get sick, the shock to your body of eating less may be more harmful or you may start burning valuable muscle.

The main thing to get out of this is that a prepper should be a well-rounded individual.  So be sure to be prepared emotionally and physically so that your greatest asset (yourself) really is an asset and not a hindrance to your own survival and to the others who will rely on you.