What exactly do you need to survive? If you’ve read up on survival at all, the first thing that probably comes to mind is water. Without water you won’t survive more than a few days, at best. Next comes food, shelter, medical supplies — the list goes on and on, and it’s these lists that we typically build our prepper plans around, making sure we have what it takes to survive the worst case scenario.
While, yes, these are all critical components to a successful survival plan, in the end all the supplies in the world won’t be enough if you don’t have the will to survive. This desire to keep surviving is known as morale. If you and your family/group don’t have the spirit of survival and the motivation to keep going, those supplies, tools and weapons will be mostly useless.
Maintaining morale is just as important as maintaining a fresh water supply or a steady stream of food. Without a high level of morale, depression can set in and completely ruin even the best-planned survival situations. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why morale should be considered a resource just like water or food, but the question is how do you breed it and keep it going?
What Morale Means
So what is morale? If you look it up in a dictionary you’ll get, “The confidence, enthusiasm, and discipline of a person or group at a particular time.”
So think of morale like a fuel tank. The tank has a capacity for morale, but if it’s not filled and checked from time to time, the engine will run dry, causing all sorts of issues. Still using the fuel tank metaphor, think how easy it is to fill your gas tank in your car or truck if there’s still fuel in the tank. You drive up, pay, and add more gas to the tank.
Now think how difficult it is to fill a tank that’s completely dry. You need to push or tow the car into the gas station or walk miles with a fuel canister. Not very easy, now is it?
The same goes for morale in people. It’s easy to keep morale going, but difficult to restore it once it’s completely run out. And just like your car and fuel, people without morale don’t run well, either.
Morale means hope. It means people have a good feeling about what’s going on, even if it’s a bad situation. It’s hope that things will get better and that they’ll get through it. Without morale, life can be endless drudgery, and who works well in a situation like that?
How to Boost Morale
So, how do you boost morale? The easiest way to fill the morale fuel tank is by taking breaks. It’s all too easy to get into the routine of working nonstop. When there’s more work than there are people to do it, the work can seem endless. It’s this endless feeling that kills morale quicker than just about anything.
If you add in breaks to the constant work, it would help get work done just as much as doing the work itself. Along with the break, you need to have some fun, too. Just stopping work and staring at a coffee cup isn’t very relaxing or refreshing. Actually doing something that is the opposite of work can help you and your team truly refresh.
There are three key ways to relieve stress and build morale, with many more out there, depending on your situation. If we’re talking about a full SHTF survival scenario, then the odds of having power are pretty slim, so how do you relax and build morale in a survival situation? Easy — just do what they did before power!
Music – You probably won’t have your iPod or computer to play music from in a survival situation, so playing traditional or improvised instruments and singing are excellent ways to build morale and relieve stress. Not only do you get the relaxing benefits of music, but you also get team-building and morale-boosting inspiration as team members collaborate on a single piece of music.
Music is calming and makes us happy, and actually making music has an even bigger effect, making it possibly the best way to build morale in a bad situation.
Games – The simple act of playing a fun game can add in some lighthearted competition amongst your team of survivors. These can be board games, dice, cards — whatever works. The trick here is to never bet on the games, even for fun.
Betting on a game leads to one member owing another member something, which is a major blow to overall morale. Play for fun and use the game for the reason it’s there: to relax and enjoy the time you’re spending.
Storytelling – Storytellers have been around for thousands of years. Before we had paper to write history down on, it was recorded and shared verbally by storytellers. The need for a storyteller to record history may be all but gone, but the joy in hearing a great story is just as strong as ever.
Whether the story is fact, fiction, or a mix of the two doesn’t matter. What matters is the act of hearing an entertaining story unfold. This can even be altered slightly and include dramatic readings of fiction books. Using intonation, inflection, and even some made-up voices to read a story aloud can build morale and be very entertaining. Think audiobook, but in person.
Keeping morale high is critical to survival. Treat it as you would any other resource and you’ll keep yourself as well as your team members happy and surviving for years to come.