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Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

For generations hunters have often been the strongest of their tribe. Strength in will, stamina, and fortitude, these hunters set out on foot or horseback and didn’t come back until their packs were overfilling with meat. What happens though when that will, power and fortitude start to diminish suddenly, no matter how hard you try and stop it. If the recent events of the last two years have taught us anything, it is that depression, anxiety, and other issues can affect even the most ardent hunters. Some experts say that mental health issues are so common that almost everyone will develop at least one diagnosable mental disorder at some point in their life. So how do we as hunters adapt and learn to spot these issues before it is too late?

The first thing we must agree on is that there is no actual cure for a majority of these issues, no matter when they spring up. They can however be managed. I figured I should include a disclaimer here. I am not a doctor or even a counselor, I am however someone who deals with mental health issues and have used the methods below to help with my anxiety and depression over the years. Recently I decided to bite the bullet and actually ask for professional help, and these are some things I quickly learned on my journey.

Besides admitting you have a problem, finding a therapist or counselor can be one of the hardest things you will have to do. We all know that hunters are no longer regarded as the hero of the village, so finding a therapist that understands and accepts your way of life may seem difficult. Do not despair though, there are plenty of therapists out there that are understanding and eager to help. Also, with the popularity of video chat, you can chat with a therapist without even leaving the comfort of your own home. Simply talking with someone about your issues can help greatly on the road to managing your mental health.

Since your therapist can’t be there 24/7, mindful exercises are a great way to deal with the onset of a panic attack (anxiety) or depression, if done properly. Before you say anything, breathing exercises or meditation isn’t some new age hippie ploy like you may think. They are proven to help immediately and do not require any special skills.

My favorite method that helps me the best for dealing with upcoming stressful situations is known as “Leaves on a Stream.” In this exercise you imagine a beautiful high mountain stream with leaves floating on the surface, now pick up one of the leaves and think about the issue that is causing you problems and place it on the leaf. Once the thought is on the leaf you place it back into the stream and watch it float away. The thought will still be in your head, but the idea of just watching it float downstream can really help in the moment. Here is a link to the actual video for this exercise: https://youtu.be/5qM-NBgBTSo.

The biggest thing to remember as you go down this road is it’s ok to admit you need help and that you are not alone. With the proper steps, managing your mental health issues is not only becomes possible, it becomes probable.

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