With 7% of the US population experiences a form of depression each year, it’s likely that depression affects you directly – whether you yourself experience it and/or someone you love does.

Depression is isolating, confusing, and can spiral into deep and dark places if not effectively managed. There is so much research out there on ways to manage depression and often it can be overwhelming and make it difficult to take action.

But taking positive action – developing hobbies and interests – in a right direction can be critical in getting through and managing symptoms of depression. In this light, hunting is a great positive action to consider taking. Here are three reasons why:

#1 – Hunting gets us outside and connects us with nature

Getting outside is good for everyone. This is especially true for people with depression. When we’re depressed, it’s difficult to find the energy to get off of the couch, let alone get into nature.

But this is so important. One study suggests that even the simple act of walking in nature can help prevent depression. Hunting is an activity that necessarily depends upon being in nature.

It promotes harmony with the natural ecosystems from which we come. The act of taking life is a sacred one and connects us with a higher spirit, which is a connection that is often lacking in people experiencing depression.

#2 – Hunting connects us with others and helps to create community

When we’re depressed we feel alone and disconnected from the world and people around us. We forget and/or can’t feel that there are communities of people around us that love, care, and support our well-being.

These feelings of isolation can be exacerbated when we don’t share activities and hobbies with those people. Hunting, and particularly hunting trips, can provide this community.

Through getting into nature with friends, and engaging in the sacred act of taking life, we forge and strengthen bonds with one another. Hunting is a great vehicle for building these bonds because it enables shared experience and conversation in an environment that decreases stress levels and calms the mind.

#3 – As we improve hunting skills we can develop a sense of direction

One of the most challenging symptoms of depression are feelings of meaningless and purposelessness. We don’t feel like we have any direction in life and that we don’t have any skills.

Hunting can help us to create a sense of direction by improving upon the skills required. Take shooting targets, for example.

The first time we go to the range we’re not going to be very good. But by committing to improving the skill, we see consistent improvement every time we visit the range. Skill acquisition and development can be the source of a newfound sense of accomplishment and confidence, which can be immensely helpful for people with depression.

NOTE: if you and/or a loved one with depression is in any way suicidal then hunting is not and should not be considered as a healthy way to relieve depression symptoms