If you’ve been prepping for a year or more, you probably started to doubt yourself and your efforts at some point, probably on more than one occasion. Some of the questions you may have asked yourself include:
- Is prepping really worth it?
- Am I a hoarder?
- Am I going too far with this?
- Do my neighbors and family think I’m crazy?
- Am I ever going to have time to rest?
When you talk or interact with preppers who’d rather cut off ties with humanity completely, you start to wonder if you’re going to feel the same a few years from now.
This way of thinking can cause you begin to doubt yourself, hesitate over prepping decisions, and even question the wisdom of prepping communities.
At some point on the prepping journey, you wonder if all this prepping is in vain.
In fact, most preppers are uncertain whether they’ll ever get to use their preps or if it is money wasted on things they’ll never use. This can cause you to procrastinate prepping or not take it seriously.
A lot of preppers hope the predictions of disaster are wrong. I mean let’s face it, no one WANTS to be forced to live on food rations and in fear for their lives. But at the same time, not being prepared if disaster hits, means watching family and loved ones suffer.
When the opinions or “perfect stockpile” of others weighs too heavily in your decisions, confusion sets in, you make bad decisions, and prepping can become unpleasant.
Feeling like you aren’t prepping fast enough, good enough, or deciding to stop prepping completely, can fill you with anxiety.
When self-doubt about prepping sneaks in, the uncertainty can result in unwise and even dangerous actions.
In this article, we’re going to explain how people get sucked in and become obsessed with prepping because identifying the problem is the first step. If you saw yourself in any of the above descriptions, don’t worry.
Keep reading to the end for suggestions on how to let go of or even avoid the fear and paranoia, surrounding the prepping and survival communities, so you can still enjoy life while prepping.
Why Do We Get Sucked into Prepping Anyhow?
Let’s face it, the reason we get into prepping and then keep doing it is fear. Fear of the dollar collapse, fear of Martial Law, terrorist attacks or personal assault, fear of, fear of the dozens of bad things that can happen at any time to ourselves, our families, and our homes (you can see a full list of statistics here).
But you can blame us for being afraid? News reports are filled with horrible things happening every day, political debates leave us choosing the lesser of two evils, online prepping forums, and reality TV shows bombard us with talk about looming disaster and urge us to get ready now. Fear is a huge motivator.
Media, businesses, and marketing people know that fear is a sure way to convince people to take action, including buying things.
This means prepping has become an industry, just like weight loss, home improvement, pet care, and many other things.
Marketers use your fear and several other motivating techniques to convince you that you have to have the next greatest survival item.
When you see, hear, or read something about prepping, survival, or any other products actually, you need to be aware that marketers could be playing on fear to persuade you to purchase.
This is why doing your own research, reading verified customer reviews, and checking companies through the Better Business Bureau, is a critical part of the purchasing process for smart consumers.
All of this noise puts a lot of pressure on us. We have all these “urgent” reasons to prep and before you know it, we get sucked into this whole prepping thing.
This sense of urgency becomes the norm, and influences most of the decisions we make, from the house we live in, to the food we buy, the water we drink, and the people we talk to. Before we buy anything we ask ourselves:
Will this thing last if disaster were to strike today?
or we say to ourselves:
As long as I’m at the dollar store, maybe I should buy some extra candles.
You get the idea. If we spend too much time prepping, there’s a little voice in our head that slowly takes over the decision making.
If this happens, we may refuse to do or buy anything that isn’t at least remotely beneficial to our prepping endeavors. Although that’s great in the beginning, it becomes not so great as time goes by.
Prepping can become a full blown unhealthy obsession.
Why does this happen? It could have to do with your values and goals. Money and having money has become a primary focus for many people.
We want to “keep up with the Jones’” in order to not let on that our life might be less than perfect. The rise of social media has caused this way of thinking to skyrocket.
In reality, very few people, if any, have the perfect life. But most people naturally put their best foot forward when dealing with people outside the family.
What you see portrayed on social media is just a series of tiny snapshots of someone’s life—it’s not that hard to make 30 seconds look perfect or even a 30-minute video.
So, if you surround yourself with preppers, that group becomes the Jones’ you need to keep up with. But due to social media, that perfection you strive to keep up with might not even be realistic.
Some people believe that life is short and that it’s meant to be enjoyed. These people are focused on living their lives to the fullest and living for the present but without much thought or planning for the future.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying life, but you also have to prepare for the future. I actually had a friend like that for a brief period of time. I had to let him go because he just didn’t give a darn about what’s happening around him.
My point is, human beings tend to fixate on one thing and let that run their lives. Prepping is no exception although, truth be told, I have much more respect for a seasoned prepper than for someone who goes out partying every night.
We need to learn to control how we think about prepping for several good reasons: Constant fear is not healthy for us or our loved ones.
Too much fear and stress causes anxiety, depression, exhaustion, and a host of other significant health problems that can actually shorten our life.
- Unchecked fear can lead to paranoia. We begin to see danger in every activity. We may stop taking vacations to be close to home if something happens, prevent our children from going anywhere alone, stop driving to avoid car accidents, stop talking to people so they don’t try to steal our supplies, etc. We think it’s too dangerous and we get fixated and find joy in buying another water filter or learning another way to purify water.
- Obsessive prepping steals our joy by increasing envy and decreasing self-esteem. As time passes, we feel less and less joy in prepping. We still do it, but we begin to lose our purpose and enthusiasm.
What Can You Do to Enjoy Life While Prepping?
The one thing you can’t do is stop prepping (obviously).
Here are some of the specific things you can do as a prepper to start enjoying life more:
County your blessings on a daily basis.
Appreciate what you have right now. The health of your family, a roof over your head, food on your table, friends and family you can count on, and a reliable income, should all be appreciated.
Post-collapse, when we’re hiding in our homes or our BOL, we will give anything to be back living the life we are living right now. If you have trouble with this, set aside time each morning or evening to make a list of what things you are grateful for.
Get yourself excited again. If you are feeling burned out, slow down just a little bit and find joy in other things. You already have preps to last you months, maybe even years, so taking a weekend off every month is not going to decrease your chances of survival.
Take the family camping or hiking if you’ve not done this before. There are a ton of simple and even complex skills you need for survival which can be learned and practiced. Take your spouse and kids or get together regularly with friends for this purpose.
See if you can survive a weekend using only what’s in your bug out bag. Take notes on what you need to add to make things work better next time.
Extend time away to a week or a couple of weeks and make more notes. There are tons of things you can teach your kids, spouse, or friends while enjoying quality time together.
Take a weekend off every once in a while, and go someplace nice. No, not camping or hiking to work on skills like above. Go someplace where you can sleep in a normal room in a real bed, someplace non-preppers go to enjoy themselves.
If you can’t stand being in the same restaurant with non-preppers, your prepping has become an obsession, and you should definitely take a step back.
Make saving money for preps a group challenge. Pick something the family or group decides is needed. Use a plastic water cooler jug or coffee can to collect spare change or extra dollar bills at the end of each day or week.
If your family and friends are competitive, each person can keep their own container and the person who saves the most in the set time period gets to choose the color, use the item first, or some other small reward.
Get a hobby that has nothing to do with prepping. It can be something totally unrelated to prepping, such as ice skating, or watching pro wrestling or hockey.
When you begin to feel stressed, spend guilt-free time on your hobby. This will get your mind off your preps for a while and you’ll feel energized when you do return to them.
Unprep and stop trying to do it all. Well, sometimes you have to step back. If you are constantly feeling overwhelmed by chores or like you don’t have to to rest, it may be time to stop doing so much at once.
For example, if you have pigs or cows, you know how much of a hassle they can be. Maybe it’s time to scale back to chickens and ducks, which is less maintenance, and spend the extra time enjoying yourself.
Stop all the “noise”. News, never-ending debates, arguments, these are all things that require us to spend time on energy on them with no ROI.
You’d get the same benefit if you were to watch them once a week instead of spending 2-3 hours every night with your eyes glued to the TV or computer screen.
As long as you have a way to be the first to know when SHTF, you don’t really need to watch all that BS every night. Spend the extra free time reading, relaxing outside, or spending quality time with family.
Smile. I’m not trying to get all “zen” all of a sudden. I don’t think smiling for no reason is a really good idea but I’m a firm believer that there’s a huge number of things around us that can make us smile.
We just have to look for them. Your kids, your grandchildren, your health, or even the fact that you get to live another day in a pre-apocalyptic society, those are all good reasons to smile.
Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Remind yourself that any actions you take to be more prepared for an emergency or disaster means progress.
If you have stored food for 3 days, 1 week, or 3 months, you are better off than before you started. Any step you take is forward progress that gets you closer to your goal.
Focus first on the small-scale events most likely to happen. The thought of an asteroid hitting the earth is terrifying. Preparing for something like that is overwhelming. And it may never happen.
Start with common occurrences that can disrupt your life such as a serious injury, a suicide or death in the family, temporary or permanent loss of income, sudden disruption in food, energy, transportation, or water availability, and home loss due to fire or foreclosure, etc.
Let go of jealousy. Look to others for inspiration, advice, and ways to learn from their mistakes. But don’t harbor jealousy if the BOL, BOB, or BOV is bigger, fuller, or faster than yours.
Every situation is different. There are people who survived the worst disasters with nothing but perseverance.
Do what you can when you can and be happy for others who do the same. Avoid comparing your own prepping actions and stockpile to those of someone else.
Recruit some help. Find friends, family members, neighbors, colleagues, or others who support your prepping plans and recruit them to help in some way.
Even if your mom isn’t on board with prepping, she might help with the gardening occasionally.
Or perhaps your neighbor might be interested in trading that extra firewood next to his shed if you use your rototiller to prep an area for his wife’s new garden. Any load can be lightened when it’s shared.
Think of prepping and survival as a gradual lifestyle change not a huge project you have to finish quickly.
Choose one or two things about your lifestyle to change. Do those things until they become habit, then choose two more things.
If you are stockpiling, don’t spend $300 in one huge spree and then stress over how to pay bills. Make a list of what you need and choose one or two things from the list to buy every time you do your regular shopping.
Prepare for the worst but hope for the best. Don’t walk around every day upset, annoyed, or frustrated with everyone you meet simply because they aren’t prepping.
Don’t expect the worst out of every situation you run into. As long as you’re ready for the worst, you’ll know what to do when it happens but until then, lighten up, it’s ok to enjoy life.
Has prepping started to become an unpleasant chore for you? Do you find yourself procrastinating your prepping? Did you recognize yourself in any of the examples above? Let us know in the comments below.
update by Megan Stewart 09/08/2019
My dad was military. My grandfather was a cop. They served their country well. But I don’t like taking orders. I’m taking matters into my own hands so I’m not just preparing, I’m going to a friggin’ war to provide you the best of the best survival and preparedness content out there.