In this post, our special guest contributor Andy Hewitt talks about fishing for mental wellbeing and the awesome benefits everyone can experience if they just give it a try.
Fishing for mental wellbeing – The Hustle and Bustle
These days, the hustle and bustle of life and the daily grind seem to get in the way of everyday events. Finding the time for yourself and your family proves more difficult as every day passes. Plans come and go and before we know it, another month has trundled along, leaving us gasping for a break to alleviate the stress.
Although this may seem a common theme for most of us, stress, anxiety and other mental wellbeing issues can become more than just a disappointment or a lost opportunity, it can literally mean the difference between life and death.
The latest death of a celebrity, that I am sure many of you will have seen and read about, as tragic as it was, highlighted the fact that social media plays a huge part today in peoples mental health and their perceived perception of what others may think of them. It can be a good thing, but it can also have devastating effects.
Many thousands poured onto various social media outlets sending their condolences and expressing their shock at such a terrible event. But these events are not uncommon. So what of the ordinary person on the street, those suffering through financial difficulties, veterans of Her Majesty’s Forces, of farmers and labourers? Where is the help for them? Where is their shoulder to cry on, their hand to hold?
Time to change?
Today, in my opinion, we have come full circle in our evolution and have arrived back where we first began, living in caves as solitary mammals.
The vast majority of us see very little of others, cocooned in our own houses watching the world go by through the eyes of others. We don’t need to leave the house as banking, shopping, take away ordering and friendship making can all be done at the touch of a button. We never have to talk to anyone, interact with anything, and can while away our existence sure in the knowledge that what time we have left can be spent in front of a TV. Might I add, a TV where channels are activated by voice control and music can be played by asking Alexa, or whatever her name is. A great life isn’t it?
I’ll be the first to admit that I prescribe to some of the above but not all. I refuse to do online banking because I don’t trust it, I still pay certain bills at the post office, because if nothing else, it is an institution that should be supported and I try and shop when I can without the use of the internet. I mean when was the last time you wrote a letter to someone. I can’t remember. Perhaps we are all guilty in some respects of finding ourselves in the position that we are now.
Fishing for mental wellbeing – How can fishing help?
So you’re sitting there thinking, ‘This is supposed to be a blog about fishing for mental wellbeing’ what the hell has this got to do with our beloved sport?’ Well, quite a lot when you think about it. A recent study showed that being in the fresh air, be it walking, or even fishing can be beneficial and help to reduce anxiety and depression. Being in and amongst nature can be a positive turning point for those that may require it. Its where we belong, outside, not hidden away staring at a games machine for hours on end.
I have a fairly pressurised job and I sit at a desk for forty hours a week. It’s soul-destroying and isn’t me at all. The happiest time in my working life was when I was a fish farmer and beekeeper. I spent my whole life outside, working, and although circumstances changed and I was forced to seek other employment, I always hark back to those days and one day I am determined to return to them in some capacity or other.
I have had many other hobbies that have had nothing to do with fishing, but over the last few years, I truly believe fishing has saved me from going under.
It has given me the chance to decompress for a few hours, and with a youngish family, a couple of hours on the bank lure fishing for Pike, drop-shooting for Perch in my local canal, or an early morning Tench session, is all that I need to re-charge.
Fishing in schools? We need to make it happen
I have a son that has been diagnosed with ADHD. We are very lucky in the respect that the hyperactivity part is not as prevalent, as it can be for some, but the concentration is where the main problems lie. I have found though that once he can be persuaded to come along with me, his whole attitude changes and he sees the world for what it is, and not one that is through the lens of a camera or app. The world is the one that evolves in front of his eyes. A perfect example of fishing for mental wellbeing.
He now takes a nature book with him when he is not fishing, and seems to find the focus that is necessary, when either watching a float slowly descending or waiting for the sure and certain tug you get when a Perch attacks your bait.
Recently I have also joined a Facebook group called Fish for Mental Health. This platform gives those that need to talk the opportunity to do so. It also gives the group a common theme and a place to belong to. Although it hasn’t been going for too long, the posts that I have seen on this site show that there is a need for such a thing and that the support that others give when it is necessary.
Yes it is true that there are many different associations and professional bodies like the that people can turn to when they need help, but there are also things that we can do for ourselves, ways to look at coping and to find the potential to be more resilient.
I fully acknowledge that I am not a professional, that each case is different, each person copes in different ways and some need more assistance than others, but I do know that you need to talk. To talk to each other to family or friends, work colleagues or employers, to a neighbour or a GP. What I do know is that sometimes we can’t cope on our own, and there is definitely is no shame in that.
Get out on the bank and spread the word
Something we can all do, not only for the future of our sport but to encourage fishing for mental wellbeing pathways for future generations, is to encourage angling in schools. There is enough material in this subject to form an article in itself, but some kind of library system in schools, where tackle can be borrowed to children or their parents may prevent issues or give children the ability to cope better with problems at an early age.
Perhaps getting out there, for both our children and ourselves, and having a few hours by the bank side, might be just what you need. It would be a shame not to give it a go and it may even cement a new hobby that you can share with your partner or children. What could be better than that? It might just be the break you need to get you back on track for a while, by yourself in the peace and quiet. I believe in this sport and I believe in fishing for mental wellbeing.
Help spread the word and keep talking.
I have been fishing since the age of 10 years old. I cut my Teeth on the river Trent but have fished in the Dominican Republic, Australia, the USA and parts of Europe. An accomplished fly fisherman, fishery manager and fish farmer before entering the world of lure fishing for Pike, Perch and Zander. I Prefer Lure fishing for Pike and Zander and Drop Shot fishing for Perch.
Check out Andy’s Instagram @specimenhunter1966