Stress and Survival

December 31, 2012, by Ken Jorgustin



Stress is defined simply as ‘reaction to pressure’. Unexpected or unanticipated events, or overload situations that develop can put a strain on our ability to cope and make us feel out of control. It is this feeling of not being in charge of a particular situation that we label as stress.


Stressors are events that cause stress. The most common to survival include heat, cold, thirst, hunger, fatigue, isolation, fear, uncertainty, lack of control, injury, illness and death.


While a survival situation will be a traumatic experience for most people, the effect it will have will depend on circumstance. For instance a person suffering a vehicle breakdown in spring in the northeast U.S. will have a different reaction to a person who suffers a similar breakdown in mid-summer in the Mojave Desert of southeast California.

There are natural reactions to stress that need to be recognized and expected, for which strategic interventions need to be implemented. Signs that indicate stress include fear, anxiety, guilt, anger, panic, aggression, depression.

Do not over-react and remember, too much stress leads to ‘distress’ resulting in anti social behavior, angry outbursts, difficulty making decisions, unwillingness to accept responsibility, inability to get on with others, and eventual withdrawal from the group.


In order to cope with stress, you must keep your emotions in check, stay as physically relaxed as possible, take constructive action, and use common sense.

Early critical reactions in unexpected survival situations are brought into focus by remembering “STOP”…

Think and take stock of your situation
Observe and organize your thinking
Prepare and plan for survival

For more, read “STOP


Appreciate topics of survival, preparedness, risk awareness – or planning for disaster?
Read our current articles on Modern Survival Blog