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In the Thick of It

A Look at How Seasons Affect...Everything. (Repost from J. Nelson and the Effects of Nature on Self)

Mid-January... sometimes feels like the Thick of It!

"Seasonal depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that occurs at the same relative time each year, typically in the fall and winter months when the days are shorter and there is less natural sunlight. Symptoms of SAD include fatigue, changes in appetite and weight, and difficulty concentrating. This seems simple enough, however, many feeling the effects of SAD are unaware of the situation or just confused as to their current state.

"One of the best ways to combat SAD is by connecting with nature and finding a deeper spiritual connection to the earth and the cycles of the seasons. Research has shown that being in nature can have a massive positive impact on mental health, reducing stress and anxiety, and improving mood. One of the best outdoor activities that can be particularly beneficial for those with SAD is fly fishing.

DNSTRM Team member Roz releasing a fat winter bow

"Fly fishing combines the benefits of being in nature with the added benefits of physical activity and mindfulness. The act of casting a fly fishing line requires focus and concentration, which can take the mind off negative thoughts and emotions and bring a sense of peace and tranquility. The peaceful and calming environment of a river or stream can also have a soothing effect on the mind and spirit.

"Fly fishing also has the added benefit of being a low-impact form of physical activity. The repetitive motions of casting and mending the line can be meditative and calming, and its physical activity can help to boost energy levels and reduce fatigue, which are common symptoms of SAD. It can be a form of moving meditation, connecting the body and mind to the present moment and letting go of any negative thoughts or worries.

"Additionally, the act of fishing itself can be a form of mindfulness and spiritual practice. It requires the individual to be present in the moment and to pay attention to their surroundings and the natural cycles of life. The act of waiting for a rise, and then the feeling of excitement at the take, can be a reminder of the interconnectedness of all living things and the importance of being in harmony with nature.

"Another way to keep seasonal depression at bay is by taking advantage of the natural light that is available during the fall and winter months. Even on a cloudy day, natural light can have a positive effect on mood and can be seen as a reminder of the beauty and wonder of the natural world. Taking a walk or going for a hike during the daylight hours can help to boost the body's production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in regulating mood and can be seen as a form of gratitude and appreciation towards nature.

"In addition, it is important to make sure you are getting enough physical activity and exercise during the fall and winter months. Exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression, and it can help to improve mood and energy levels. It is a form of self-care and self-respect and, combined with an outdoor activity like fly fishing, helps build a solid mind-body approach.

"Also, one can't stress the importance of proper nutritional intake and a solid sleep regimen. These too are a form of self-care and can set a firm foundation for combating SAD, depression, anxiety, and a host of other mental ailments. Proper sleep, nutrition, and exercise will give you a robust "body" pillar.

"Social support can be an important factor in managing seasonal depression and other mental ailments, and it doesn't just have to be from a professional. Of course, professional help is highly effective and often needed, but simply connecting with others and finding support and comfort in a community is also highly effective. This is another strong suit of the fly fishing world. There are almost always groups, meetups, tying events, etc that anyone can be a part of. If nothing else, head down to your local fly shop and strike up a conversation with employees and other shoppers. You'll often be surprised at the willingness of others to chat and connect over a shared love of fly fishing.

"To conclude, fly fishing and other outdoor activities, combined with exposure to natural light, exercise, a healthy diet, a regular sleep schedule, and social support can be an effective way to elevate your emotional state this fall/winter.

"Fly fishing truly is a mind-body-spirit approach to all-out well-being. It is a reminder of the beauty and wonder that is the world we live in. No matter how many emails we have to answer, no matter how many new social media platforms keep vying for our limited attention, no matter the demands of modern life...nature's respite can't be undervalued!"

Excerpt from A Look at How Seasons Affect...Everything. (Repost from J. Nelson and the Effects of Nature on Self)

I hope you've enjoyed this re-post. Lord knows I've had my struggle with deep winter emotions. Outdoor pursuits are my personal "savior."

Whoever this post was for, I truly hope, has found it and is comforted. You are not alone. While it may take some effort, some simple start on your end, there is always a way, a ray of hope, a new unburdening just a few steps in front of you. You're always welcome to reach out with any questions or to just have a chat.


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