In this state, people find themselves unable to do anything at all.
Inherent in most crises are opportunities for positive, healthy, and practical responses. Be it a natural disaster, like a hurricane or earthquake, or a man-made disaster, such as an act of crime or terrorism, the following techniques are effective in managing, minimizing, and even eliminating “The Black Zone.”
When the next crisis hits, these crisis management tips will help you be prepared.
First, learn about Stress Inoculation
In clinical psychology, stress inoculation is, “an approach intended to provide patients with cognitive and attitudinal skills that they can use to cope with stress.”*
It includes the gradual introduction of stress into a person’s experience so that they learn to cope and eventually make their experience less stressful. Normally, this isn’t something an average person would do on their own but would be part of an intensive training program for the military or other select groups.
However, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself mentally and physically to navigate the Black Zone.
Apply physical exercise
Physical activity is a fabulous way to practice stress inoculation. A person need not attempt anything dangerous in their exercise routine to train their body to deal with stress.
For example, a normally sedentary person can start by taking a daily walk, then over time make their walk more challenging by walking in bad weather, increasingly difficult terrain, or with a backpack. DO NOT perform this kind of exercise during a lightning storm or other life-threatening event. Simply walk (or hike, jog, or run) in ways that expand your comfort zone. Exercising in the rain, or during an organized event, like a 5K run or a mud-run, is a fantastic way to inoculate against stress.
Add scenario-based training
The rehearsal of planned responses, or “scenario-based training,” is also a healthy way to avoid the Black Zone. For example, spend an evening without using electricity in your house. Use candles and other non-grid light sources. Cook over a fire or with your Sun Oven or propane grill. Brush your teeth using stored, bottled water in a room illuminated by a lantern or flashlight.
Purposely set yourself in situations that are unfamiliar and even uncomfortable for a finite period of time.
FEMA provides this outstanding Family Communication Plan in PDF format that can be printed and rehearsed. It includes simple lists of exits, phone numbers, and meeting places that families can identify and practice. Paperwork of this nature can also help inoculate for stress.
Utilize written documents
Written documents are effective in combating the Black Zone. Please see A List of Lists on this site for a few examples. Create your own lists by brainstorming and document your personal and family objectives.
In my book, The Survival Template, I describe my problems during survival training, and how the written documentation of my objectives help me to perform and execute. Once during a training mission, I used a tactical notebook with the written objectives:
These were written on the first page of my notebook, and just this simple act of identifying and documenting these objectives gave me the clarity to accomplish them and more!
Finally, break a crisis response into manageable parts. Identify actions that can be taken immediately rather than trying to solve every “big picture” problem immediately. Here is an example using a common scenario:
A sudden, violent summer storm descends on your neighborhood. A fallen branch breaks a glass window in a downstairs room, the power goes out, and your unprepared neighbor shows up with a crying baby. The water from her faucet is brown and muddy and she has no stored water to prepare formula.
Rather than taking in the whole, big picture, focus on small, immediate, and manageable tasks, such as:
- Light the house with pre-positioned flashlights and lanterns
- Direct the neighbor and baby to a safe part of the house and help her make formula using your store of bottled water
- Assist your son to remove the branch, clean up the glass and nail a tarp over the broken window
- Gather your crowd of “survivors” to discuss the next manageable tasks. Example: We will eat canned chili and drink bottled liquids while listening to the Emergency Radio until the storm passes.
While this example crisis may have seemed daunting at first, each manageable task was really quite simple and easy, right?
In a crisis, the majority of people will do nothing. They will be trapped in the Black Zone. By applying these simple strategies, you will be the one with a quick, clear vision and plan for managing the crisis.
*Definition from The Free Dictionary.
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