How "Birding" Helped My Anxiety

How "Birding" Helped My Anxiety

Hi, I'm Jeff and I wanted to share my personal story with an unusual hobby that helped me overcome my anxiety.

I have always struggled with a bit of anxiety. It was never debilitating, but it was always there.

As I approached 60, I noticed things seemed like they were starting to get a bit worse. I was getting nervous in situations that never bothered me before - things like travel for work, or even routine meetings were now making me feel just a bit uncomfortable.

I was coming up on retirement, and just was trying to talk myself through the last few years.

But about a year ago, I stumbled across a new hobby that just happened to help my anxiety by accident!

I had some extra PTO to use up before retirement and decided to take a few weeks off just to relax and get things in order around our house. I've always loved the outdoors and have been an avid hiker for years, so decided to use this extra time off to get in daily walks through our local county park.

On my first hike I came across a beautiful bald eagle that landed only about 15 feet in front of me on the path. I'm a huge fan of wildlife, but never considered myself a "birder" until I came across that gorgeous feathered friend.

I was mesmerized for nearly 15 minutes as it just sat there, and I looked on in amazement. It didn't move at all during that time, and as I got closer, it didn't seem bothered at all.

It turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime encounter, but that experience had another life-changing effect - For the first time in months, I didn't have any anxiety. Even in the days after, any time I felt myself getting a little nervous I would just close my eyes and take myself back to watching that beautiful bird and my anxiety just melts away.

Since then I've become an avid birder. I have no formal training, and I'm not an expert by any means. I just love walking around the park and listening to all the different bird songs. I've seen so many species there that I would have never imagined seeing in my area.

Just last week I saw a beautiful Indigo Bunting, which is only supposed to be in northern New England - So needless to say, I'm hooked!

Whenever I feel like my anxiety is getting the better of me, I just close my eyes and picture myself on one of those beautiful walks.

I feel so lucky to have this hobby that not only kept me active after retirement, but manages my anxiety by accident!

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