R. Ann Parris on Mentality Check: Fear


Mentality Check: Fear by R. Ann Parris

There are some classic “funnies” that have been making the rounds of the internet since we started forwarding emails. One’s a little girl, sleeping in her bed with several big dogs. One’s a little ol’ blue hair who gets pulled over by a cop, who sees her gun. In both, there’s a question. What is she afraid of?

They share the reply: Not a darn thing.

They don’t have to be afraid. They have security, despite being typically vulnerable, victimized portions of humanity.

That’s what prepping should be doing for us: eliminating fear and the stress it causes.

Not exacerbating it.

Fear has its purposes. The will to survive, to avoid loss, and to thrive can get us through difficult situations. There are drawbacks, though, especially if it’s a persistent state.

Fear basically is stress. Neither one is good for the body or mind.

They lead to actual physical disorders and anxiety, affect digestion, and directly and through other symptoms slap our sleep with double whammies — and sleep is vital to both physical recovery, learning and processing, and mental health. Low-quality sleep very quickly affects our mood, personality, aggression levels, reactions and reaction speeds, and our decision making.

They can lead to isolation, real or perceived. Isolation of social creatures, like sleep, perpetuates the exact same symptoms, leading to greater lacks in control, temper, reaction, and decision making.

Prolonged states of “readiness” of that type lead to an additional slew of issues, with a repetition of the anxiety and isolation and stress results that lead to aggression and temper, and difficulty controlling them, and the same drains on our bodies.

If there has ever been a snake eating its own tail situation, it’s the fear-feedback loop once it becomes habitual.

We don’t have to fall in that trap, though.

Fear may spur us down the road to preparedness. We see or experience something — personally, on the news, or in fiction — and want to avoid it (or a repeat) for ourselves and our families. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Fear is a reaction, though, and spurs the kneejerk responses of fight, flight, and freeze. Once we’ve started to move, it needs to get shelved so we can make clear-headed decisions.

We can’t avoid some of the stresses involved once we react and then make the decision to become a more prepared and self-reliant individual or family. We’re embarking on a way of life, reconditioning our bodies, usually trying to greater and lesser degrees to take care of and inform others, re-budgeting our time and disposable income to gain skills and acquire supplies.

Remember, though, that our brain is like every other organ and muscle in our body.

What we put into it and how we treat it affects how it works. When we exercise, we stress our muscles. Then we give them a recovery period. Our minds need the same.

We cannot — cannot — continuously exist in a state of heightened fear and stress without it eventually taking a toll.

We have examples as diverse as military and police PTSD, the rates of substance abuse and health problems in high-stress jobs, all the way out to ag consultants called in by somebody whose crops or animals are dropping in productivity.

The first thing that consultant does is check for common stressors, because unchecked, those stresses can evolve from a failure to thrive to killing those crops and animals. And sometimes, the stressor spreads or the loss affects other crops and animals.

We’re no different.

We control the inputs we allow in our headspace. If there’s a particular source that’s generating fear, cut it off. If it’s a particular site or broadcast that does nothing but pump fear, avoid it. If there’s an aspect of preparedness that’s generating stress, set it aside — at least for a little while.

Step back. Breathe.
Remember: Prepping is supposed to be the thing that lets us drive around on our errands and then sleep safe and sound in our beds without fear. If prepping is exacerbating our stress and fear, leading to isolation and anxiety and sleepless nights … we’re doing it wrong.

**If so, ask for help. Users are on free forums for the community, which includes giving and receiving aid and the companionship everyone does, actually, need for health. If you don’t have a forum where you’re comfortable being honest … that’s one of the things that needs cut off. Find another one.