Reduce Your Stress: Teach Someone to 'Fish'

Reduce Your Stress: Teach Someone to 'Fish'

Posted by David Bradshaw, clinical psychologist and yoga instructor, on August 2, 2017

We’ve all heard the saying “Give a person a fish and you’ve fed one person; teach a person to fish and you’ve fed them for a lifetime.”

I just read a story about Justin Blazejewski, a Marine veteran who in searching for ways to manage his posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was led to teaching yoga. After multiple combat deployments, and working as a contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan, Blazejewski received a diagnosis of PTSD. In his search for healing, he found a yoga class that included meditation; for him, that class was the first step on the road to recovery.

Through his own experiences, Blazejewski realized that other veterans and service members could benefit from what he’d learned. He wanted to spread the word, and decided that becoming a yoga teacher was the best way to do that. In fact, eventually he went a step further and became a teacher of teachers. Blazejewski’s story of becoming a yoga instructor illustrates how it can be rewarding and beneficial for someone with PTSD to find a way to share a personal interest or special skill with other people.

Push past doubts

For some, sharing a personal skill or interest can seem like an impossible task. There may be the issue of self-doubt or lack of self-worth, feeling like you don’t have anything of value to share. Or there’s the issue of mental clarity — issues common with PTSD include having trouble dealing with stress, being worried about trauma triggers and always feeling on alert. This can create a huge mental burden that can make it difficult to pull your thoughts together enough to figure out how to teach someone else. And of course, teaching someone means you have to be willing to communicate clearly with them, which could expose feelings and issues that you’d rather avoid.

Share what you know

Those are some obstacles, but let’s look at what you do know. First, think about things you know about, what you care about. Maybe these are things that very few other people even know that you know. But you know what? Maybe not very many people know these things as well as you do. Maybe you really enjoy fishing or take amazing photos or can fix bikes. Think about it —are there any special tricks or techniques that you know that others don’t?

Now how do you feel when you go fishing or work on that bike? Are you able to focus, and forget about everything else when you’re doing it? That feels pretty good, doesn’t it? It gets you out of your own head. Sure, maybe you have difficulties being with other people, but is it a little easier when you’re busy doing something you like to do, even when other people are around? Even if it’s hard to talk with people, do you find it a little easier if you’re talking to them about that thing you like to do? It doesn’t have to be a lot of people — maybe even just one or two. If you said yes to these things, teaching or mentoring may be just the thing for you.

Focus on rewards

Teaching’s real payoff is the one that set Blazejewski on his path as a yoga trainer; it helped resolve his PTSD symptoms. There is reward in helping other people and watching them learn something. If you have kids, consider how satisfying it can be to watch them do things you taught them — like tie their shoes or ride a bike. If you have an opportunity to help someone learn a new skill, you’ll find that the benefit you gain from it far outweighs any concerns you may have about the risks. Helping others can be very helpful to you.

So look for ways where you can share your skills. A quick check in my community turned up these volunteer teaching opportunities:

  • The public library system needs people to lead book discussion groups and teach people how to learn basic computer skills like Word and email.
  • The parks department is looking for those who can help organize park cleanups, teach exercise classes and lead hikes.
  • The local YMCA offers opportunities to mentor kids or teach a variety of classes.

Take a look in your community to find similar opportunities. If you’re interested in teaching young students, consider the Troops to Teachers program. Funded by the Department of Defense, this program assists transitioning service members and veterans in beginning new careers as K-12 school teachers in public, charter and Bureau of Indian Affairs schools.

Whatever your interests, keep ‘fishing’, and look for ways to pass on your skills! It can help others — and you.

afterdeployment.t2.health.mil Community Terms and Conditions

  • If you have feelings of suicide, hopelessness or depression - please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

  • afterdeployment.t2.health.mil reserves the right to edit and/or remove any user-generated content that violates these Terms and Conditions. The contents of the afterdeployment.t2.health.mil site, such as text, graphics, images, information, and other material contained on the afterdeployment.t2.health.mil site ("Content") are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the afterdeployment.t2.health.mil site. If you choose to participate in the afterdeployment.t2.health.mil forums and/or blog ("Community") you agree to these Terms and Conditions.

  • Community posts and comments are reviewed by the Moderators for appropriateness before they are published to the Community. Posts and comments are reviewed between the hours of 0800 and 1700 hours Pacific Time, Monday through Friday and will go live immediately after review unless they are deemed inappropriate based on these Terms and Conditions at which time they will be deleted without notification.

    You will not be contacted at any point by any member of the afterdeployment.t2.health.mil staff, nor any related agency or organization. If you are in need of assistance or medical attention, please contact the DCoE Outreach Center or National Suicide Prevention Hotline listed in the top right corner of your screen.
  •  
  • You agree not to hold afterdeployment.t2.health.mil liable for anything stated within the Community. Messages and/or comments posted at this site are the sole opinion and responsibility of the poster. afterdeployment.t2.health.mil makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained within the Community.

  • afterdeployment.t2.health.mil and its Moderators reserve the right to remove, edit or delete without notice any and all content placed in the Community.

  • Moderator and/or afterdeployment.t2.health.mil action may be final. Actions may be reversed by afterdeployment.t2.health.mil or a Moderator after review of the matter.

  • Using the forum to solicit discussions contrary to the Terms and Conditions may be considered unacceptable.

  • It is your responsibility to be familiar with and remain updated to current Community Forum Terms and Conditions. All users of the Community must comply with these Terms and Conditions. Infractions of any Term or Condition may result in revocation of forum privileges.

  • General content that is inflammatory, vulgar, sexually explicit, rude or otherwise inappropriate will not be tolerated and will be removed.

  • Always be respectful of the Community, afterdeployment.t2.health.mil employees, and Moderators. Be civil, clean, and decent in all posts. Open discussions of varying points of view are encouraged but only if they remain constructive and not inflammatory. Personal attacks are neither allowed nor tolerated. Anyone using/ posting inappropriate content, language, personal attacks, engaging in hate speeches and rants, or being disruptive to the Community's positive environment may be barred from all further discussions and/ or the afterdeployment.t2.health.mil Community.

  • The Community is not a venue for personal or private vendettas or causes, including political debates.

  • Links to adult content, pages with links to adult content, or messages describing anything inconsistent with these Terms and Conditions will be removed.

  • Do not post copyrighted material or articles written by others without their permission.

  • Do not post altered-text as an attempt to defeat forum word-filters or otherwise circumvent the rules.

  • Nicknames, signatures, and avatars are not allowed on the site.

  • Keep forum thread discussions on topic, and within the subject of the forum. Please do not "hijack" or "bump" the thread to gain additional exposure to a post or yourself. Please do not
    cross-post within other forums and threads.

  • Content and Spam that is posted for the sole-purpose of unrelated promotion will be removed and may result in a permanent loss of forum privileges.

  • Anyone posting another member's personal or website details will be banned. Please do not post sensitive or confidential information to the Community about yourself or other members. Examples include account information, private communications with moderators, etc.