Anxiety disorders affect millions of people in the U.S. alone and no treatment that is guaranteed to result in less anxiety for the people who suffer. It varies in degrees, types and intensities. The people who suffer from it know all too well how debilitating it can be and how it feels to suffer its affects. Those around us may try to understand but unless you have walked in our shoes then it is unlikely that you truly can understand what it is we feel. I have tried this and tried that with some successes and some failures. Some things will work here but not there or need a tweak to work the next day. I have found being flexible helps me and anything to help ease my mind or direct my thoughts to something else are helpful. I try to write at night before I go to bed to take the thoughts from the day and release them and in return hopefully releasing myself to sleep. Often this works well. I wanted to expand my horizons though and start being able to expand the comfortable zone around my home in which I would travel without much thought or anxiety. So I looked around for solutions with nothing really jumping out at me except more road blocks and possible problems which only exacerbated the issues I was struggling with in the first place.
Geocaching and Anxiety Disorders
One day though I was on the internet and was looking for information on hiking and stumbled upon a reference to a gps unit. A global satellite positioning receiver and I was interested in learning more about it. So I looked around the net and found more information and in most of that information was a reference to something called Geocaching. I started to read about it and it sounded like fun to me but I was sure there was no way I could go places and look or hunt for items hidden in the woods or off of trails. How could I ever dream of doing that? Sounded great but it was a pipe dream!!! I put the thought away and moved back to the gps unit. It looked like it could help me. I wanted to try it but these things are not exactly cheap to get one that would do what I wanted it to do or what I thought I needed it to do. I knew if it did not do what I wanted then I would find fault and the idea would be doomed to failure. I decided to take my time and explore the different models and how they could help me. If it failed at all, then I moved to another model. I read the reviews and researched. I let my fear run the course with looking for a unit. And when I found a unit that fit the bill I left it alone for a bit and then went back to it. Still there was nothing wrong so I decided to give it a try.
So what did I think this could do for me and how could it help me with anxiety? I knew that the unit coupled with the proper maps could tell me where the bathrooms were no matter where I went. Not only would it do that but it would tell me how to get there and how far away I was and show me that on the map. It would show me the progress I was making towards that destination. So a lot of my fears as far as traveling were concerned where able to be eased by having the information right there with me and updated in real time. I moved and it tracked my movement. I was amazed and wanted to go more places. Before I knew the zone had expanded and I was gaining confidence. So the geocaching idea came back to me as I wanted to keep making progress.
So what is geocaching exactly? Geocaching can be described in a few ways and I will try to help you understand it. Using the 12 billion dollar satellite system the U.S. Government has put up in space above our heads for its own uses and yet is available to us for something such as geocaching or gps units in cars or many other things. So if it is good enough for the military it is good enough for me. I mean I spend $300 and get to use $12 billion in equipment, cool!! So geocaching is a game or a hunt when someone puts an item (cache) somewhere and gives you hints to get the co-ordinates to the area where it is located. You get there and then search for the item, usually an army ammo container that is rust proof and water tight or maybe something smaller like a film canister size item. You find them and then can trade items with what is inside or just sign the log that you found the cache. You can also learn how to hide items of your own for others to try and find as well. Or maybe get a Travel Bug which is a little dog tag with a bug on it and send it on its way to wherever. Others cachers take them and move them to another cache. There is a number on them which you log when you place them somewhere. Thus you can follow your litter critter around as it is placed different places. They also have geocoins that serve the same purpose. It is often fun to find these and some are downright hard to find. Some have puzzles that give you clues, some have math, some are simple, and some are the size of your thumbnail in the woods. You get close but then must use your sense and wits to find them. It is a fun game and one that can be done by anyone.
Geocaching can be as hard or as simple as you want it to be, you select the caches to go after, you select the time, and you select the distance. It is all in your hands and that is a great thing when suffering anxiety. You do it when you want and there is no time limit. If you try and can not make it for any reason, then no problem. If you make it but donít find the cache, I think you will be driven to find it. If you are like me you will think it through anyway until you find it. So for me I have been able to get lost in thinking about the caches and not the fact that I am out away form my comfort zones. Rather that is near home or with someone that makes me feel more comfortable. I can do this with people or on my own. It was mostly on my own at first and close to home as well but expanding each week. So before I knew it I was walking down trails and not feeling anxiety but rather anticipation of nearing the cache as I watched the gpsr unit get closer and closer to where I was supposed to go and when I was there, no anxiety crept in as I was so focused on seeing what was different around me, where did they hide that cache, they couldnít fool me, I would find it, so you hunt for it and the thrill of finding a well placed cache is catchy. The trip back was a concern for me as how would I feel after the thrill of the hunt was over and now it was just me, out somewhere with no comforts. You know what, I had a new comfort, the gpsr unit, it told me how to get back and how long it would take, I was in control, if I walked faster, the time shortened, if I ran I saw the progress. I also knew form where I parked that a restroom if needed was nearby according to my gpsr. It hasnít let me down yet and even if it did, I think now I would be okay. So my new little friend was a big comfort for me. It gave me information and that information gave me peace of mind, armed with that I am expanding my horizons to places I never dreamed of just a short time ago. And I am seeing things that I never would have seen as most of the caches are in places you normally would not know about. Often these places are beautiful and right there under your nose!!!
It really has helped ease my anxiety. It is only one part of anxiety and I know there are many other battles I still face and struggle with but this is one that I am winning. I am doing and seeing things that just were not possible. With that will come confidence and some happiness. The ability to believe in myself and maybe even to dream just a little of the day when anxiety is no longer the controlling factor of any of my life situations. Look at cachingÖ give it a try. Geocaching.com