SURVIVAL STRESSORS

Any event can lead to stress. Often, stressful events occur simultaneously. These events are not stress, but they produce it and are called “stressors”. In response to a stressor, the body prepares to either “fight or flight”. Stressors add up. Anticipating stressors and developing strategies to cope with them are the two ingredients in the effective management of stress. It is essential that the survivor be aware of the types of stressors they will encounter.

a. Injury, Illness, or Death. Injury, illness, and death are real possibilities a survivor may face. Perhaps nothing is more stressful than being alone in an unfamiliar environment where you could die from hostile action, an accident, or from eating something lethal.

b. Uncertainty and Lack of Control. Some people have trouble operating in settings where everything is not clear-cut. This uncertainty and lack of control also add to the stress of being ill, injured or killed.

c. Environment. A survivor will have to contend with the stressors of weather, terrain and the types of creatures inhabiting an area. Environmental and climactic changes, coupled with insects and animals, are just a few of the challenges awaiting the Marine working to survive.

d. Hunger and Thirst. Without food and water a person will weaken and eventually die. Getting and preserving food and water take on increasing importance as the length of time in a survival situation increases. With the likelihood of diarrhea, replenishing electrolytes becomes critical. For a Marine used to having his provisions issued, foraging can be a significant source of stress.

e. Fatigue. It is essential that survivors employ all available means to preserve mental and physical strength. While food, water and other energy builders may be in short supply, maximizing sleep to avoid deprivation is a very controllable factor. Further, sleep deprivation directly correlates with increased fear.

f. Isolation. Being in contact with others provides a greater sense of security and a feeling someone is available to help if problems occur.