Mental Health Chat

By Ashlee Strange @ashlee.strange

Part 3: The Mountains are Medicine

I think many of us are unaware of how much the realities of everyday life cause us stress. In my experience, people seem to think counselling, prescribed medications or simply talking about how they’re feeling are signs of weakness.
Many will recommend, and prescribe even, the great outdoors as a treatment for mental health. While it generally doesn’t cure, it sure does help. In my case, it helps a lot. I have a restless heart and a mind that never quits, but they both go quiet when I’m outdoors enjoying what nature offers.
The benefits of hunting are wideranging and highly beneficial. One of the most understated benefits of hunting is improving your mental health. We all know that spending time in the outdoors, connecting with nature and engaging in physical activity has positive effects on our mental well-being, so it’s no surprise that hunting and its related activities bring psychological benefits to those who choose to get out there.
There are a few ways that hunting can benefit your physical and mental well-being:
1. Exercise: Hunting requires physical activity, such as walking, climbing, and stalking prey. This can help improve cardiovascular health, strengthen muscles, and increase endurance.
2. Stress relief: Spending time in nature and participating in an enjoyable and challenging activity can help reduce stress and improve mental health.
3. Improved sleep: The physical activity and stressreducing effects of hunting can help to improve sleep quality.
4. Improved mental clarity: The focus and concentration required during a hunt can improve mental clarity and cognitive function.
5. Sense of accomplishment: Successfully hunting and harvesting an animal can provide a sense of accomplishment and boost self-esteem.
Advocates of hunting note that the close connection to nature helps increase mindfulness, a state during which we become more aware of ourselves and our environment. Studies suggest that this increased awareness can be highly beneficial for managing anxiety and depression. There is no doubt that leaning into nature’s wildness through hunting can bring greater balance between life’s highs and lows while promoting enjoyment of the outdoors overall.
I am grateful to be an outdoorswoman. Getting outside and recharging is important, I feel at peace, reset, and I’m a better person and mother for it. We all need that connection to wild places. It’s why we do what we do.
Having something that elicits so much passion is the constant light at the end of the tunnel, the helping hand always within reach. While it’s hunting and being outside that does it for me, it isn’t for everyone. No one can respect that more than me. Sometimes it takes decades to find what works for you.
Just keep trying and don’t be afraid of failure. Eventually, you’ll find a path that feels right. And I’ll be here to cheer you on. And if it is the path outside, I’ll see you out there.