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10 Ways to Stay Calm and Prepare for a Disruptive Event

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: February 4, 2021
10 Ways to Stay Calm and Prepare for a Disruptive Event

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Over a recent dinner at my place with like-minded friends, the conversation turned to the state of the world, our country, and society in general.  While this was supposed to be a fun evening and a much needed break from long work-days, the conversation became quite sobering as we started to rattle off all of the disruptive events that the four of us prepare for.  Events that may happen tomorrow or events that may never happen.

I began to squirm in my chair as I realized that each of us felt challenged both by the need to keep our preps up (meaning stuff and skills) and the need to live a joyful life.  The two, it would seem, do not always mix.  We want it to, and most assuredly I write about it, but believing and doing are two different matters altogether.

10 Ways to Stay Calm and Prepare for a Disruptive Event - Backdoor Survival

Since then, I have given some thought to coping while living in a world where a disruptive event could turn life upside down.  Today I want to throw down the gauntlet and tell you that even for me, it is a extremely difficult.  And  if I am feeling it, you must be too.

What the Heck is a Disruptive Event?

Do you like that word?  Disruptive Event? For the past year that has been my catch-all phrase for the myriad of things that could happen to alter life as we know it.

I use this term to describe any event that could potentially transform our personal lives into one of chaos, distress, confusion, or all of the above.  Interestingly enough, today I could not find many references to this term using Google so the how, where, and why I started using it most likely has to do with my own thoughts on TEOTWAWKI.

Note:  TEOTWAWKI = The End of the World as We Know It

TEOTWAWKI was a commonly used acronym in preparedness and survival circles until the end of 2012 when various predications of the end of times did not materialize.  The term is still used today, in a much broader sense.  At Backdoor Survival, for example, TEOTWAWKI refers to anything that disrupts our normal way of life.  This could be something as devastating as an EMP taking down the power grid, to a more mundane (but equally devastating) job loss or loss of a family member.

Disruptive events are common and that is why we prepare.  In 12 Months of Prepping, as I have defined it, we are preparing for short term disruptive events and in doing so, we are better prepared than 95% of our friends and neighbors.

But honestly and truly, that is just a start.  What about after that?

The trite answer is that we focus on skills and projects that foster self sufficiency without modern conveniences.  We also focus on defensive tactics and how we will defend not only our homes, but our person, and our rights under the Constitution.  More difficult is that we prepare our mental state so that we will be level-headed and calm when our world becomes a sea of chaos.

The Plight of the Prepper Who Carriers the Burden of Truth

The past four years have been rather remarkable in that on the surface and to the naïve and uninformed, they have appeared outlandishly normal.  Those in the know, however, have been able to peel away the layers of deceit and recognize that information coming from so-called official sources changes daily to suit some unwritten agenda.

While living in the moment, everything appears copacetic.  But in truth, for me it almost feels as though we are entering the twilight zone.  Does it for you?

Plenty has already been written here an elsewhere about being prepared but precious little is written about how you overcome the personal sense of being alone and lonely in your preparedness quest.  That, to me, and I suspect for you, is the plight of the prepper who carries the burden of truth.

So, without resorting to doom and gloom, today I am sharing my take what we need to do to prepare for a “disruptive event” or tipping point in a reasonable and calm manner.  This is a mixed bag of both practical preps and lifestyle choices.  I hope this list helps you, as it is helping me.

10 Ways to Stay Calm and Prepare for a Disruptive Event

1.  Have a frank and unemotional discussion with a close family member or someone you trust about your concerns.  Share with them the specific disruptive event that will constitute your own tipping point.  Even if they are not a prepper (and many times, a prepper goes the journey alone), it will be good to share your concerns out loud.

2.  Relieve stress with laughter.  Don’t be afraid to have fun.  Tell jokes, do something goofy, play stupid games and try your best to have a good time.  If things get bad, you will undergo extreme stress.  Plan for that by thinking through some fun activities now, while your mind and focus are still clear.

3.  Having an abundant back stock of food will give you peace of mind.  Fill your pantry with enough food to eat during an extended lockdown. How much is enough?  I am not one to quote specific quantities as it relates to time because individual calorie needs vary.  That said, here is a list to get you started:  20 Items to Kick Start Your Food Storage Plan.

4.  Go the extra mile when it comes to clutter, cleanliness, and sanitation.  If a disruptive event happens, your own personal ground zero will be clean and tidy.  Your personal space will be much easier to maintain going forward and besides, when the disruptive event occurs, doing routine housekeeping chores will be the least of your worries.  Store fresh bleach (no more than six months old) or pool shock.

Print out instructions for disinfecting surfaces and purifying water.  Stock up on hand sanitizers, alcohol, and purifying essential oils.  Read Survival Basics: Water and Water Storage and How to Use Pool Shock to Purify Water.

5.  Nail down access to water within your home.  By that I mean within your living space and not outdoors in the carport or an out-building.  If there is a disruptive event and you are required to hunker down, you will want plenty of drinking water in your home, not outdoors,  Start filling repurposed juice and soda bottles with water and tuck them away so that they will be accessible.

Learn how to remove water from your hot water heater and if you can, keep a hose nearby so you can get the water out of the tank and into your living space.

6.  Stay informed by reading news from a variety of sources.  Take the time to visit a variety of websites in addition to tuning in to mainstream media reports.  If something you watch or read sounds like fear-mongering, move on.

7.  Protect your immune system with healthy eating including lots of antioxidants in the form of colorful fruits and vegetables plus plenty of high quality protein foods.

8.  Practice saying “no” in everyday life.  This, for some, can be extremely difficult.  I am someone who has difficulty saying no to people and as a result, I often find myself in a pickle as I become overworked and burdened with things I have promised to do for others to the exclusion of my own task and chores.  You are going to have to say “no” to those that come knocking on your door asking for help if the SHTF.  Better start practicing now!

9.  Prepare a written plan of action detailing what you will do if a disruptive event occurs.  Start with one type of event then later, create a plan for the second type of event.  Speaking from experience, having a plan helps even if, when the time comes, a portion of the plan has to be tossed.  The added benefit is that if you are a solo prepper, you can share the plan when your non-prepping family starts to come around (as I guess they will if things get bad enough).

10.  Continue to live your life normally.  Go to parties.  Enjoy family events.  In the back of your mind, you may think or even know what a mess of a freight train is heading your way.  But while you are waiting, just live!

The Final Word

Now is the time to be calm and to mobilize your energy so that you will be mentally prepared for a disruptive event that we hope will not happen.  More than anyone, I realize how difficult this is.  It can be lonely, depressing, and tiresome.  Trust me, I feel your angst and your weary spirit.

Hang in there and know you are not alone.  As I said in point #1, sometimes it helps to just talk about it and to share your feelings.  That has worked for me and I hope it works for you.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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Bargain Bin:  Below you will find links to some personal and BDS reader favorite items and books as well as a selection from the current Amazon Top 10.

One Second After:  For many, the novel "One Second After" was a game changer that convinced them of the need to be prepared.  This is mu number one pick for anyone and everyone that might be on the fence when it comes to preparedness.

Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse: Although this is also a book of fiction, it is also serves as a survival manual of sorts.  The depiction of society three years following a collapse is so very real that I could almost put myself in the same room as the members of the survival group that has banded together to protect each other as they live in a communal retreat.  The section on a bartering market was hugely insightful and gave me some idea of how it might work in a real, SHTF situation.  Considering when this was written, Patriots is eerily timely.

Clara's Kitchen: Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes from the Great Depression: If you don’t know about Clara, be sure to read Depression Cooking: A Visit to Clara’s Kitchen.

The Beginning Of The End:  This is Michael Snyder’s first novel.  If you want to know what things in America are going to look like in a few years, this is the book to read.  It is a mystery/thriller set in the United States in the near future.  Need I say more?

Tac Force TF-705BK Tactical Assisted Opening Folding Knife 4.5-Inch Closed: FAVORITE! This is a great knife that is currently priced at under $9.00 with free shipping.  Not only that, it is ranked as the #1 best seller at Amazon in both the camping and hunting knives categories.  The reviews raved about this knife so I bought one, used it, and and can recommend it.  See The Inexpensive Tac-Force Speedster Outdoor Knife.

Note:  the price can vary by color so if you are not particular, scroll through the colors and safe a couple of bucks.

Dorcy LED Wireless Motion Sensor Flood Lite: Don’t let the $20 price lead you to think this wireless flood light is wimpy. I have two of these and feel that these lights are worth double the price.  Using D-cell batteries, the Dorcy floodlight will light up a dark room or a dark stairway in an instant.  I can not recommend these enough.

LifeStraw Personal Water FilterThe Amazon Top Ten Most Wanted Survival and Outdoor Items   Backdoor Survival:  The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultra light personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out.  It weighs only 2oz. making it perfect for the prepper. There is also a larger sized LifeStraw Family currently available with free shipping.

FordEx Group 300lm Mini Cree Led Flashlight: You already know this, along with the Blocklite,  is my favorite portable flashlight.  At the time of this writing, this one is about $4.00 with free shipping.  It is super mini sized, bright and waterproof.  Plus, it uses a single, standard AA sized battery. Pictured is one that I own in green but they come in basic black as well as some other colors.

blocklite flashlight

Blocklite Ultra Bright 9V LED Flashlight: I now own six of these little gems. There is a similar flashlight called the Pak-Lite (which is more expensive) but it does not have a high-low switch like this one. Less than $8. These little flashlights just go and go, plus, they make good use of those re-purposed 9V alkaline batteries that you have recharged with your Maximal Power FC999 Universal Battery Charger.

Bicycle Canasta Games Playing Cards:  This timeless classic will keep the entire family occupied when the power it out.  Playing cards or board games should be in everyone’s preparedness pantry.

Ticket To Ride: This my favorite board game, bar none.  Family friendly, you will spend hours in front of the fireplace playing Ticket to Ride with your favorite people.  This is worth the splurge.



Need something from Amazon (and who doesn’t)? I earn a small commission from purchases made when you begin your Amazon shopping experience here. You still get great Amazon service and the price is the same, no matter what.

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12 Responses to “10 Ways to Stay Calm and Prepare for a Disruptive Event”

  1. I haven’t had the time to read through the comments as I normally do. So much going on this time of year. First, about #4…as a former perfectionist, please no one be offended with the terms used. If you’re a ‘neat freak’ or tend to lean toward that way. Please be aware, depending on what the situation is…you may/will want to be selective in what and how you keeps things “tidy” as Gaye says. Prior experience has shown me that in an event, it pays to triage your response to staying tidy with how those outside your circle of influence may see those actions and where you are staying. Consider, you’re hungry or your family is hungry…you see a well ordered house as you’re roaming for food. You also see a disheveled or what appears to be an unkept home….which would you choose to raid for food? Be selective in your energy and keep sanitation as the priority, but that clutter you want to clean up may just be a great defense against potential invaders. There is a different way of thinking when this ‘event’ happens. So consider changing how you would do things and; just like doing drills about bugging out or getting back home, practice this for a few days or a week. Not just physically but run through it mentally when you have a few minutes…go through your routes, actions etc. It’s how the US Olympic team gets better, they do both the physical and the mental visioning to become better. We may not be Olympians, but in this we CAN be. 🙂
    Practice is very important to not just staying alive but also for mental health during and after the event. Many are familiar with hysteria when something happens, most are not familiar that there is an opposite response. That of freezing in place. You may have seen it on tv or movies, it’s that moment when something happens and we don’t have the knowledge needed to react. Whether it’s someone having a heart attack or thieves robbing a bank…over 60% of people do it. It’s normal. The more you can role play possible events…or/and figure different ways of handling will help you respond better and go into action without thinking about it first. Even when you do freeze, accept that its normal and don’t beat yourself up. As much as we prepare, there will be something which happens that we just didn’t think of.
    The other piece, another reason for role playing/drilling….when that tipping point happens, no matter how well prepared, there will be those who will experience post traumatic stress. Some may want to research how to help those experiencing it. Currently I don’t know what treatments are available, but just like First Aid, it’s knowledge which may make you (especially seniors and the disabled more valuable as a community member. *As if learning basic skills isn’t enough.* 🙂 Whether you meditate, pray, or however you lessen stress, keep practicing those skills too, they will be needed.

    • Dee, I like what you said about the value of NOT decluttering all the time. And that the mess could disguise preps. Maybe looters would think the messy house had already been picked over.

  2. I just received and tried the water distiler I ordered from the water webinar a few weeks back. Couldn’t wait to try it so with grandkids in tow we took water off the top of the swimming pool, strained it through a coffee filter, smelled it ( it smelled kind of bad) and following the simple instructions distilled water. Water was nice and clear, no smell and tasted great.It was really cool and the grandkids loved it. It took a while but in a survival situation it’s another thing for my arsonal. Before the webinar I had no clue that I needed another way to make clean drinking water. Thank you so much for all that you do to help us all get prepared for what ever comes our way.

    • Jackie, I am thrilled to hear about the water distiller from the podcast. I am finally facing up to the brackish quality of the nearby rivers. The price freaks me out and I missed the special from the podcast. However I definately need to save up for this.

    • I am working on setting up another webinar again in a few months or perhaps a discount code for subscribers. No promises but I can be quote persuasive LOL. My own Survival Still has not arrived yet 🙁

    • That would be awesome. You are so instrumental in each of our journeys as preppers.

  3. Thanks for the balanced approach and wide range of information you share with all of us. It is sometimes overwhelming to consider how I and my family would actually survive TEOTWAWKI. But as you keep reminding us, start with the basics and go from there. Your willingness to spend hours researching, reporting and enlisting the help of Survival Hubby to prepare is awesome! I am better prepared and much more knowledgeable about many subjects that I hadn’t even considered. Thanks Gaye!

  4. I think we should all applaud ourselves for having some semblance of preparation for whatever is to come in the future. I feel empowered by having prepped to the best of my knowledge, by this website and Gaye’s constant updating of materials to help us get by in any situation.
    I feel sorry for the folks that don’t have a clue as to what the big world will serve up if things go TEOTWAWKI.
    My spouse is on board somewhat, but all the preparation has been up to me so far. In that I feel the familiar pang of loneliness in my prepping, friends and family know about our lifestyle, but I have yet to see any of them make any plans to be prepared as we have done.
    So I’ll keep scavenging and making food buckets and saving water. If it makes me feel more secure, then that’s all that matters at this point.

  5. Am I the only one feeling a mental group hug this morning? Well I too found todays article quite timely. With spring in full force here it has been a very busy time. This year our garden is being beefed up with a more prepper mindset which means more work than an average busy spring. In the moments when the sweat is rolling down my cheeks and my hair is stuck to my neck and my knees are gouged by rocks and my back is starting to ache, I do pause and wonder if this is all really necessary. But then the different scenarios that I prep for start rolling through my mind and I put my nose back to the grindstone. I feel moments of discouragement, like I just cant do this. That discouragement is compounded when I have to, as you say “peel away the layers of deceit and recognize that information coming from so-called official sources changes daily to suit some unwritten agenda.” just from a simple local news broadcast. As for you comment about ” it almost feels as though we are entering twilight zone. Does it for you?” my answer is a resounding YES! But in your usual way, you Momma Gay, have metaphorically kissed our foreheads and said it’s alright. I know I’m gushing again, my restraint only held out so long. 😉

  6. I do believe that planning and practice are key to being calm and fortunately those are free. My thinking about planning and practice have changed a lot over the years as my mind is able to comprehend more information and scenarios. At the moment I view both places and bags as having increasing levels of severity during a disruptive event. In terms of places it begins with wherever I happen to be when the event occurs. Therefore I have turned my purse into an Every Day Carry bag. The next level is our apartment outside DC. There is a long way to go to prep the apartment. The next level would be the journey to my little home in the country, which must suffice as a Bug Out Location. The journey requires a Bug Out Bag. The house is pretty well prepped although there is more to do. The final destination will happen if it becomes necessary to leave the house. For that I intend to prepare an INCH Bag, which stands for I’m Never Coming Home. This bag must include tools and supplies for starting life over in a forested area and possibly having to break camp and move frequently. Fortunately the area near my house is covered with forests, fields, and water sources. The bad news is that most of the water is brackish and will have to be distilled. Good thing Gaye hosted that awesome podcast on distilling water. There you have it, a series of places or journys and the matching bags.

  7. This is an important and helpful article. I do prep mostly alone. While my husband does thankfully tolerate my chatter about prepping and survival he isn’t willing or able to make an overall plan with me and work at filling in the pieces. On top of that I have to pull way back financially. Therefor all I can afford to do is to refil my husbands soda bottles, add a couple things to the shopping cart. But the good news is I can keep studying and practice practice practice. I do have an overall plan in my head and know the stuff and skills needed to fill in the plan. I truly felt calmer reading your post, Gaye, because we can all take the steps you detailed and because I am not alone on BDS.

  8. I thought this article came at a most timely manner. I just recently told my husband that we must enjoy life as long as there is life to live. Life is a precious gift and
    well worth living and enjoying. We should be prepared but we should also laugh and enjoy what we have. There is too much fear mongering in our faces. Most of it will never happen. I think it is okay to be thoughtful and wise but not forgetting that the world is still a beautiful place to live. People are still people we need to be positive bring hope to others.

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