5 Brain Hacks That Will Help You Survive a Disaster

From Io9 - in the context of your airplane going down or a pending zombie attack, will you keep it together? I'm a bit of a closet zombie nerd, and it always astounds me in the movie when a non-zombie person totally copes with their situation. If zombies starting busting through the windows of my apartment, I'd be 100% paralyzed with fear, period. Maybe after reading these tips, I will be better equipped to keep my cool...

  • Use a Mantra - Whether it's something simple to keep you focused ("I will survive.") or an inspiring reminder of what you'd miss if you give up ("I love my wife and kids."), repeating a mantra over and over can help clear your mind and get you through a chaotic situation.
  • Don't Be a Victim - Once your basic needs are taken care of (like, you're not going to bleed to death in the next few minutes), divert your attention to the other people around you. See what you can do to help them. This takes your focus off of your own injuries and mental trauma. People who maintain this kind of selfless behavior have better survival rates in disasters. That's just one more reason to start leading a less self-centered life.
  • Learn New Things - When you devote time and effort to learning a new task or skill, such as playing a musical instrument or speaking a foreign language, it literally changes the shape of your brain. If your life is in a rut and you follow the same routine, never trying anything new, your brain will have a hard time dealing with the sudden upheaval of a disaster. Keep your mind limber and you'll adapt more easily if the worst happens.
  • Stay Emotionally Cool - Anger, frustration, or despair will cloud your thinking and lead you to make poor, possibly fatal decisions in a disaster scenario. Staying calm and cool is perhaps the most important thing you can do in the aftermath, but you can't just decide to be calm. You have to train yourself to be cool while in line at the DMV, dealing with the "customer service" of your cell phone provider, or whenever you visit your in-laws.
  • One Step at a Time - What do you do when you find 100 zombies staggering through a corn field toward your isolated farm house? Lock the doors, barricade the windows, and find a gun. Seems simple, but could you clearly think through and prioritize those steps under such circumstances? This is a skill that you can use in your everyday life, whenever you feel totally overwhelmed by work and other responsibilities. Decide which one thing is the most efficient and important thing for you to do right now, then do it. Then do the next thing. Practice that and it will come naturally when the inevitable zombie apocalypse comes.
In the few seemingly life-threatening events I've experienced, I've actually found that thinking rationally about the logistics of the situation is a great removal from the overwhelming emotion that's usually involved. It allows you to turn your attention to what just happened three seconds ago, what's happening now, and what needs to happen three seconds from now. Who has time to freak out?

No comments: