Preparing for the worst can be exhausting.
While generally speaking, preparedness activities and awareness provide peace of mind for me, there are days that I just don’t want to see another mylar bag or read the next scary headline trumpeting our imminent collapse.
Both mentally and physically, the activities that make up the everyday life of a prepper can take a toll. If you aren’t gardening or preserving food, you’re practicing marksmanship or other vital skills. You’re reading alternative news websites and piecing together the information as it applies to you and your family. Some folks are worrying about their locations, their retirement accounts that they are unable to access and their loved ones that remain unconvinced of the need to prepare.
Feelings of overwhelming exhaustion, procrastination, and/or anxiety are signs that you need a little break from prepping. Don’t let that concept cause you even more panic – this doesn’t mean you are returning to life as a sheep. There is a big difference between sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the global situation, and simply taking a little step back now and then. Many people refer to this mental atmosphere of stress as “prepper fatigue.”
My daughters and I just returned from a wonderful week-long vacation visiting some states in the Pacific Northwest. The holiday served multiple purposes: much needed R&R, getting together with good friends, and checking out some farm real estate in our future desired location. I made a rule for myself limiting my time on the computer and just did the bare minimum. I didn’t scour news websites and wrack my brain for topics to write about. I did keep a list to jot down ideas as they occurred to me. My friends are like-minded so we had some great discussions. When I looked at property, obviously the self-sufficiency ramifications were foremost in my mind. But all in all, it was a break from my usual way of life.
It was rejuvenating, and it reminded me how important it is to smell the roses. It isn’t healthy to be grimly focused on the worst things that could happen every second of the day. It isn’t good for your mind and soul to worry so much about tomorrow that you forget about enjoying today.
It’s hard to let go sometimes and just enjoy the moment, but your ability to do so, even (and especially) during difficult times, will allow you to weather the coming storms in good mental health. No matter how difficult the situation, it’s important to spend some time every day smiling. As a parent, a partner, a friend – consider carefully the time you spend with loved ones and be sure that you are creating good memories, whether you’re digging in the garden together, laughing at how silly chickens look when they run, or staring in awe at a breathtaking view.
I’ve recently read some articles (this one in particular was wonderful) about this sense of enjoyment and was disturbed in the comments to see a few preppers chastising the writers and telling them that the situation was too grim to consider things like fun. The people who cannot find a way to smile during difficult times will be the ones that crack. Their children will be the ones that are the unhappiest. While being determined is important, survival is about more than shoveling unseasoned beans and rice into your mouth and standing watch. As times become more difficult, episodes of fun and laughter, no matter how simple, will see you through them.
Keeping up your motivation by taking time for some recreation doesn’t have to break the budget or divert you completely away from your prepping principles. For example, during my vacation, I was on a boat with like-minded friends. We were enjoying the warm weather and scenery while discussing how difficult it would be to breach the security of a home on a nearby hillside and brainstorming the retreat value of such a home.
Following are twenty ways to take a break, prepper style:
- Visit a nearby working farm that doubles as a tourist attraction. Learn about the way the farmer houses and feeds livestock, what he grows and the self-sustainable methods in place there.
- Go camping and rough it to practice your outdoor survival skills. Bring a field guide and look for plants that you can forage and signs of wildlife.
- Unplug from the computer for 24-48 hours.
- Do prepper drills: go a weekend without power, have a paintball ambush, go hiking with just a compass and water filter.
- Learn a new skill like knitting, whittling, making pottery, or marksmanship.
- Take a class: cheesemaking, gunsmithing, first aid, or a useful craft.
- Join a gardening club, an archery club, or another group that provides useful information with a social aspect.
- Take a walk and/or work on your fitness.
- Have an all-day food preservation get-together with a like-minded friend.
- Go to a farmer’s market or a pick-your-own place. Buy a bushel of fruits or veggies for canning while you’re there.
- Take a vacation to an interesting place.
- Attend a seminar, country fair, expo, or trade show.
- Watch a movie or series marathon with the family – opt for something inspiring like Red Dawn, Jericho, or another survival flick.
- Read a book like Lights Out, One Second After, or The Stand.
- Browse the gardening or building section of a bookstore or library.
- Spend the afternoon at a greenhouse or garden store, checking out new plants.
- Curl up with a seed catalog and a notebook.
- Write in a journal – you can focus on prepping, your garden, your faith, or life in general.
- Play with a pet. (I’m working on some obedience training with my dog before a search and rescue course next fall.)
- Go hunting or fishing.
How do you decompress to combat prepper fatigue, while still working towards your preparedness goals? Do you feel a sense of renewed enthusiasm after taking a little break?
Thanks, Daisy! I think this was meant for me..hahaha! Great article!
😉 Happens to all of us, Shifty!!!!
Great article Daisy!
#21. Go outside and take the dogs for a walk. The fresh air and exercise will be good for all. As you walk, enjoy and appreciate the scenery and the sunshine.
Have an attitude of gratitude. Thank God for all your blessings.
OMG Daisy I have been on the shtf web for about two years and never knew yo had your own site. Great site thought. I am really trying to get ready for my garden this year and have been batteling burn out for about three months. This article has helped me see this is normal. I will be back on the horse again soon. Take care girl! youare saved in my faves now 🙂
Justincase ~ Hi! I’m so glad you stopped by! 🙂
Yep, it happens to all of us – prepping can be intense and hard on people. A little break can be just what the doctor ordered. If you don’t have your head straight, it’s nearly impossible to focus on your goals. I have no doubt whatsoever that you’ll be back at it in no time at all!
Yep another great article Daisy. Been doing some of the 20 things the last few weeks.
Just found your website after reading your “Take A Break” article on LewRockwell.com site.
Since Lew’s page didn’t state I had permission to copy (print and/or save to hard disk)
your article for my own personal use), I now am visiting your site (for the first time)
to see if printing or saving to disk is OK (for personal use, not for republishing).
I like your list of suggestions for taking a break – may I make a personal
copy (save and print)? What is your general policy? Thanks, Daisy.
Now to check out the rest of your site… –Norman
Hi Norman! 🙂 I’m glad you like the website.
You are most welcome to print out information!
I think I need to stay happy and I believe the Lord has it covered. But learning new skills that make me less dependent on the world give me a sense of freedom and peace and stimulate my brain. And sometimes I need to learn something exciting, like how to rehead a drum with a deerskin from a deer I butchered. Doesn’t seem too useful in the event of a disaster, but I saved my husband about $500 by repairing all his drums for work, and we can put that money towards something else. Rejoice and stay busy!