Benefits of Fishing for Veterans Suffering from PTSD
Fishing is one of the most accessible pastimes for people of all ages. Leisurely, yet challenging, and easy to to do on any budget, fishing is a wonderful sport that can help relieve the symptoms of PTSD for veterans and service members.
Fishing offers a relaxing, deeply cathartic experience. When fishing, a warrior’s mind switches gears to an easier, more peaceful mindset. Stressors like your job, money, relationships, all feel like distant problems when there’s a pole in the water. During dull periods when the fish aren’t biting, the peacefulness of the water gives time to reflect in a calm, rational way. After a long day of fishing, stressors don’t necessarily vanish or get pushed away for them to never be dealt with, but they seem more manageable.
Fishing can lessen anxiety
According to Rivers of Recovery, extended fishing trips and time on the water have been linked to sustained reductions in guilt, feelings of aggression, hostility, fear, and sadness.
Reconnect, Recharge, and Reflect
Go alone or in groups, but regardless, the tranquil sounds of calm waters is enough to ease the minds of many. When calm waters are broken by the occasional tug from a fish, it’s hard to think about anything else.
When the fish aren’t biting, the calm outdoors can offer a great retreat for reflection. Having time outdoors to enjoy nature is also shown to reduce stress.
On the road to recovery, it’s important to have a place or exercise where you can reflect. Fishing offers a great way to reflect, without forcing you to focus too much on reflection. Fishing provides the perfect mix of serenity and stimulation, giving you time to reflect while still keeping you occupied.
Everyone can go fishing
PTSD can cause you to lose interest in hobbies and activities you once enjoyed. Finding new activities, or revisiting old activities with renewed interest can help your life find a happy, healthy balance. In Texas, disabled veterans and active duty members of the armed forces are eligible for free hunting and fishing licenses.
Dealing with troubled waters
Just as it is easy to relax while fishing, sometimes, it can be frustrating at times, especially for certain individuals experiencing TBI. Losing fish, snagging your line, or going for long periods without catching anything all occurs occasionally. Just like life is filled with setbacks, fishing offers small setbacks sometimes as well. The important thing is not to focus on the setbacks, but to look ahead and get your line back in the water.
It’s important to keep these tips in mind:
- Can’t cast far?
Bass love shallow water when searching for prey. During the mating season, bass move up to shallow beds. Sometimes the best hits occur right on the weed line
- Tired from casting?
In ponds and calm waters, often times it’s easy just to let your bait sit and wait for a fish to bite. In certain fishing, like catfish and carp, it’s actually better to let your pole sit and wait for the fish to come to you.
- Breaking and snagging your line?
There’s nothing in fishing more frustrating than losing your hook or lure to a rock pile or weeds. The good news though, is that you’re likely close to an area with fish. Fish love rough and rocky cover for their own protection. Try casting out near, but not in the same spot as your previous snag and keep trying.
- Losing fish?
You had the bite, you thought you set the hook, and halfway through getting your fish in, your line goes slack and they’re off. It happens to everyone, from amateurs to pros. The battle between fish and man itself is why it’s called fishing, and not catching. Every time you lose a fish, remember that at least there’s fish in the waters you’re fishing, you’re using the right bait, and in doing the right things. Keep trying and you’ll get them in.
- No bites?
Sometimes you’ll get no bites. It happens to everyone. When you don’t get any bites, don’t be discouraged. Sometimes the fish just aren’t hungry. In situations of no activity, allow yourself to focus on reflection. A bad day out fishing often beats a good day at work.
- Can’t cast far?
No time restraints
There’s no wrong time to go fishing. Sun or rain, morning, noon or night, the best time to go fishing simply when you want to. Getting out on the water is often a stress reliever in itself. Adding a physically and mentally stimulating pastime to the mix is only a bonus.
Thanks to the time spent away from your phone and concentrating on fishing, time seems to feel slower and move faster. A four hour outing might feel like 20 minutes, but can still be physically tiring in a way that may make you sleep better as well.
During your stay at Warriors Heart, you’ll have a large, bass-filled fishing pond to enjoy as part of your recovery process recovery. Our treatment programs help provide a variety of benefits for those who are undergoing PTSD treatment, with a variety of inpatient, outpatient, and day programs to suit your schedule. Contact Warriors Heart today and win the battle against addiction.