When it comes to our physical health, we all have strategies to stay healthy and the physical parts of farming help with that, from chasing after livestock, carrying supplies and products to going up and down the ladder of bins and equipment.
Farming also comes with everyday challenges that are outside of our control. To help with those challenges, the importance of treating your mental health as you would your physical health is a generally accepted principle. Mental health is much more than one element of health.
Many people see mental health as only meaning not having symptoms of mental illness. Mental health is your overall psychological well-being. It means feeling good about who you are, having balance in your life and in your thinking and responding constructively to life’s highs and lows.
Everyone should practice good mental health as it can protect you from mental illness. Taking care of your mental health may mean seeking professional support and treatment, but it also means taking everyday steps to maintain and improve your mental wellbeing.
Here are some tips and advice on protecting and improving your mental health:
Value yourself: Treat yourself with kindness and respect. Feeling good about yourself boosts confidence to learn new skills, visit new places and meet new people. It also helps when life takes difficult turns.
Do something for yourself: Put yourself as your number one priority. Take time to do activities and hobbies that you enjoy and makes you feel fulfilled.
Keep active: Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you sleep, concentrate and overall, feel better.
Eat well: We need a mix of nutrients and vitamins in order to stay healthy and function well. A diet that is good for your overall physical health is also good for your mental health.
Socialize: Whether you’re around people at the farm all day or work by yourself, life can feel isolating. It’s important to turn to real-life interactions for the sake of your mental health. This could be something as simple as reading a bedtime story with your kids at night, or getting involved in a sport or activity off the farm.
Find and talk to your support network: Talking about what is going on in your life, whether that is to celebrate the great things or the challenges can help your mental health. Surrounding yourself with people who care about you will help fight off a poor mental state while simultaneously filling your life with joy.
Take a break: This can be hard during the busy seasons of farming, but a change of scene or pace is good for your mental health. It could be a 5-minute pause or stretch on the tractor, a half hour lunch break, or a few hours enjoying an activity. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress.
Help others: Caring for others is often an important part of strengthening relationships with people close to you. Volunteering your time and energy to help someone else can help you feel good as well – and it’s a great way to meet new people.
Understand that your mental health is always changing: Mental health isn’t something you deal with once. The state of your mind is something that is always changing and you need to treat it as such. Learn how to recognize the signs of a decline in your mental state so you can fill your life with activities and thoughts that make you feel empowered and joyful.
Get help when you need it: Seeking help is a sign of strength and it is important to remember that treatment is effective. People who receive appropriate care can recover from mental illness can lead full, rewarding lives.
For a list of resources, please visit domore.ag/resources
The Do More Agriculture Foundation is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are in crisis, please visit your local emergency department or call 911 immediately.
Written by Lesley Kelly.