Often we get so wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of day to day lives that we forget to enjoy the moment. As a person with epilepsy (or any chronic illness) one of the biggest ways that we can give our health a boost is by taking a little time each day for ourselves. The theme this month is “Living Well Outside”, so It only took me a few seconds to decide I would write about fishing and the art of disconnecting.
When I first started dating my fiancé, I was introduced to his biggest passion (next to me) — fishing. I realized that if I wanted to spend time with him on the weekends, I needed to get myself a fly rod and a set of boots. When I started fishing I only hoped to find an appreciation for a hobby that my guy enjoyed. Little did I know that I would not only fall in love with my guy, but with fly fishing as well.
We started out going to a creek very near to my parent’s house one weekend early into our relationship. We shared rods, and I brought lemonade and a book. I expected to sit and read my book most of the day. Instead, Casey began showing me how to cast and bait. Before I knew it, I discovered I loved the atmosphere. There is something about being out on the water without your phone (dare I say it, COMMUNICATING in person), that can completely revive and change your state of mind.
I started doing some research about why people feel so great when they are on the water. I found so many articles about the positive effect of mental health in those that fish. According to the Harvard School Department of Neurology, there is a correlation between the two. There are a variety of different positive effects from going fishing. Here are a few I have personally experienced:
According to the article, fishing reduces stress levels. In order for people to deal with stressful situations they must also have a relaxation response or meditation. One of the positive affects of fishing is that of allowing a person to go into that state of mindfulness. When you are doing the same movements over and over you are allowing your body can help relax and distress the muscles causing you to go into a state of rest.
This one is my personal favorite, fishing can help you unplug from the world. No matter the location that you are fishing in, it is away from constantly looking at your phone, social media, or emails. When you are no longer focused on your communication device, you are more likely to rest your eyes, fish, and decompress from the stress that your body is battling. I cannot guarantee that it will be an easy transition into being away from your phone. (They call it a digital detox for a reason!) You just need to give it a chance while you are forcing yourself to be away from constant contact. I promise it will get easier as you head out on the water and get wrapped up in fishing rather than what is going on in the world.
Time with a loved one
Fishing allows for uninterrupted bonding time. Going fishing with your spouse or friend will give you a chance to have one on one time with them that you might not have normally. When you are out on the water and it is just you and them, and it can completely open up the lines of communication. You may even learn something that you would never have known about the other person. Fishing has allowed Casey and I to communicate fully our intentions, problems, issues straight up and in the open because we are with just each other on a river for hours at a time. I have grown to love that time with just us on Saturday afternoons without my phone.
An excuse to travel
Another big one for us is that fishing gives you an excuse to travel. Travel is a huge thing for both of us. We love to try new locations, food, and new places to fish. Fishing allows us to travel all over the world and to get away from the negatives of our lives even for a bit and focus on the lake or ocean in front of you instead. At this point we have traveled to: Asheville, Galveston, New Braunfels, Maine, and we will be heading to Key West and Orlando on our honeymoon. Fishing has really allowed us to get out of our comfort zones and see the world.
So next time you have a chance, pack a rod, head to a river and go tech free.
Rachel Ehrhardt Streelman is from Houston , Texas. She has been a writer and contributor to Living Well with Epilepsy for two years. Rachel has had epilepsy since 9 months old. She comes from a family where her father, sister, and herself all have different forms of epilepsy. Rachel is married to Casey and they have a Cavapoo named Sheldon.