In early recovery, it is crucial to stay busy, find time to enjoy small pleasures in life, and engage in activities that will support a healthy and sober lifestyle.  At Spring Hill Recovery Center, we have always taken advantage of our rural location and offered activities that are not only fun but that we believe can help minimize stress and anxiety that happens in everyday life.  Stress and anxiety are triggers that individuals in early recovery need to address before those feelings lead them back to their drug of choice.

Most recently, we have added fishing to our list of activities that patients can participate in while in treatment at Spring Hill.  Why fishing?  There are a number of mental health benefits of fishing.  It can help anyone experiencing stress or anxiety and can be particularly helpful for those in early recovery.  This is why we go fishing:

  • Better focus: We don’t always catch a fish on the first cast so we need to be diligent and focus where our next cast will be and not worry about anything else going on around us.
  • Reduce stress: People need to respond to stress with some form of relaxation. Just like meditation and mindfulness (which we practice), fishing can be that response.
  • Goal setting: One way to improve self-confidence is to set a goal and then accomplish it.  Where, how long, and how many fish to catch are all goals that are worth achieving which in turn can improve one’s attitude and confidence.
  • Practice patience: There is little choice but to be patient when fishing.  We embrace it and encourage everyone to take their time and enjoy the moment.
  • Travel: At Spring Hill, it might just be an hour drive to a local lake but in the future, our patients might consider traveling the world to find that new place to explore and fish.
  • Adapt to the weather and our environment: It may be a beautiful fall day in New England with sunshine and fresh air, but it may be damp, overcast, and chilly.  We need to adapt to our surroundings and enjoy whatever nature throws in our direction.
  • Relaxation: The water, being outside, the quietness, and the repetition of casting your line while fishing will inevitably lead you to a level of peacefulness.
  • Water: There has been a fair amount of research showing that being on or near the water can be soothing.  The beauty of open water and the sounds produced by moving water can be just what someone needs to escape life’s everyday challenges.

On average, we take 8 to 12 patients on a fishing outing at least once a week.  The feedback has been outstanding and most of those who have attended ask to go more often. Due to the changing seasons, we are now discussing whether to invest in ice fishing equipment as winter is right around the corner.  We will keep you posted on that decision… but for now, we are enjoying fishing in the warm weather that Western Massachusetts is currently providing us.

Eric Ekberg, Executive Director, Spring Hill Recovery Center