Prepping is always undertaken with the thought that you are “preparing” for something to happen. You prepare so you are ready. The reasons we prepare are all different, but if you are watching the markets or the global news while you stock up on food, water, security items and possibly precious metals, you are waiting for something to happen. Some might disagree with me and say they aren’t waiting, but want to be ready just in case. We could get caught up in the semantics of the definition of “waiting”, but you are waiting to use your preps or to put your plan into action or else you aren’t prepping.
For me, the waiting piece fits into most of what I do. I have things that I believe are possible in my lifetime that could cause me to use my prepping supplies. I believe there are potential situations where the skills and training I have acquired could be called into action to save my life or the lives of others. These are my motivations and they change from day-to-day with the events going on outside my window. I am waiting, watching for scenarios to unfold where I need to act.
But some people can’t stand waiting. Their own personal motivation, the reasons why they started prepping in the first place don’t seem to arrive when they are expected. If you are looking toward specific dates or events happening on a timeline this can be a stressful period for you. Others get very consumed with the subject of prepping and allow it to consume their thoughts and actions almost completely. Their intensity could be a direct correlation of the urgency they feel that their motivating event is imminent. In both of these situations, the stress of prepping can become too much. When the intensity can’t be regulated or the event date they were worried about has passed into history without anything deadly happening, this can lead to feelings of exhaustion, frustration and even disillusionment. At these low times, people can easily suffer from prepper burnout.
How can you recognize prepper burnout?
I wrote an article recently where I discussed dealing with stress after a disaster. Prepper Burnout can certainly be associated with stress, but its origins usually come from the lack of a disaster. The stress that causes prepper burnout is focused inward by our own brain and not as the result of some external crisis. We allow ourselves to get burned out by not regulating the amount of energy, thought and focus we place on this subject of prepping. The good news is that unlike a horrible tragedy, we can take steps to control what we do and how we act.
I have talked to many preppers in the comments of the articles on the Prepper Journal and from time to time you can pick up little hints that someone is not as enthusiastic as they used to be. They seem defeated, begin to question assumptions and critique others ideas more quickly. Sometimes this is just their prickly nature. Other times it is a sign that they really need to detach for a while.
Prepper burnout to me has some symptoms you might recognize:
- Fatigue – This is probably the most common symptom. You simply get tired of talking about prepping, worrying about prepping and thinking about prepping.
- Forgetfulness – Impaired thought/Attention – This doesn’t necessarily mean that you start forgetting things and need to have a medical examination, but you let your guard down. Where you used to walk into a restaurant and scan faces to look for anything odd, now you plop down in the nearest seat and bury your face into your smart phone.
- Anxiety – Worrying about the future can lead to sleepless nights, inability to enjoy the moments you are in because you are thinking of some tragedy.
- Depression – Some preppers get really depressed when “the event” doesn’t happen. If the stock market didn’t crash when it was supposed to, if the blood moon or Shemitah didn’t bring earthquakes and cats and dogs living together, it is a letdown.
- Illness – Too much stress and worry can affect your heath causing you to have a lower immune system which can lead to more illness.
How can you cope with prepper burnout?
I started prepping back in 2007 before the market fun of 2008. I watched as my 401K disappeared like many others and listened to all the pundits talking about doom and gloom almost on a daily basis since that time. Since I started prepping, there have been so many events that have happened that were going to be the “trigger event” that would send our country spiraling out of control and on many occasions I would expect to wake up to news headlines of mass chaos. The way I envisioned it didn’t happen but at times I have felt my energy level flagging. When that happens, I try to do the following.
Rebound: Train for a marathon, not a sprint – Too many preppers are worried about the next big calendar event and September was touted by many with signs and prophecies that spelled doom and destruction. If you were waiting on this you might be disappointed somewhat that nothing happened. You aren’t foolish, but maybe you need to re-calibrate your prepping forecast somewhat. Once you are at a level that you have the basics of prepping under control, the next events shouldn’t be something you worry about. I plan for living to a very old age, but if something happens before then I will be ready. I plan for weddings and grandchildren and many years of life without chaos even though I think I will be prepared if my timeline gets thrown out of whack by forces out of my control. Prepping is a long-term game that you need stamina to run. Don’t give up after the first turn.
Recharge: Take breaks and enjoy life now – Prepping does not need to come at the expense of your quality of life. You should be able to enjoy the world around you as much as possible and continue to prepare at the same time. Take a break from prepping and go on vacation with your family. Go camping or backpacking and get out into those woods you are planning to bug out into. Experience some of the sights in our country you have been meaning to see. Travel and do things outside with friends and family. There will be time for the bunker mentality later.
Reevaluate: your life, your goals and your plan – When I am feeling like something isn’t working I consider that a good time to rethink what I am doing. It may be that what I have been doing to prepare is perfectly fine, but I might conduct research into other areas I have been neglecting. My prepping plan can always use tweaking and it isn’t a hard and fast plan anyway. I have many plans and they are constantly being revised as family grows, lifestyles change, or our circumstances are altered. Life happens so you will routinely need to take a step back and look at things from a new perspective. This can show you new approaches you might have overlooked. It may put you in touch with new people with different viewpoints, experience and perspective.
Remember: the most important things in life – Finally, I try to remember that all of my efforts, all of my planning and stressing is a fool’s errand if the people I am trying to protect are left out of my life. Instead of spending all of your time and energy on surviving doomsday, spend just as much if not more on making memories during the good times. Take your wife on a date, go for long walks and talk to her, get away for a weekend and do something besides watch Doomsday Prepper reruns. Spend time with family, play with your kids and talk to them. Start a new hobby with your children or tradition. Teach them something you know and it doesn’t have to be how to skin a buck or start a fire with nothing but sticks. I prepare for my family but I have to remember that I don’t want to get to the end of my life and not have spent as much meaningful time with them as I could have. I am happy to be wrong about my preps for disaster, but I don’t want my kids to only know that side of their Dad. Life is so much more than basic survival and it is important to remember that.
Hopefully that helped someone with perspective. Life has taught me that how you think about things can greatly change your outlook and your success with the right way of thinking about a subject. If you are suffering prepper burnout, maybe you just need to look at life in a different light. Don’t give up, but adjust and you might be happier for it.
What do you do when you feel like giving up?