In the last of a blog series looking at mental health within agriculture, Naomi Wright, of Therpay with Naomi, looks at ways farmers can look at making time for themselves.
This is the final blog post in this mental health series and firstly I want to say a huge thank you.
Through reading and sharing, you are a vital part of spreading mental health awareness.
Here, I am going to offer some suggestions for ways to improve our mental health and resilience, because while breaking down the stigma and opening up conversations is ultimately going to allow more people to open up and seek help, if we can be mindful now, we can potentially reduce the chance of reaching breaking point.
I understand the tough, hardy, exterior that farmers hold. They withstand so much - battling finances, the weather, market dictated prices. I get that the thick skin and the ‘work-hard’ attitudes are entrenched and often necessary.
Farmers put their heart and soul into their business. This makes it easy to forget about looking after themselves, but when we live according to our values and with care and respect for ourselves, our relationships and businesses will thrive. I truly believe within their busy lives, farmers can find balance between their own health and that of their business.
So where do we start with self-care?
Let’s begin with getting physical.
So much of farming is a strain on the body. Look after your body today, get enough sleep, take a daily bath or shower, don’t miss dental or medical appointments, eat a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables and fruit and stay hydrated – yes, less coffee more water. I am not talking face masks and massages here, I am talking the basics of health so that we can feel good physically and therefore be more motivated, resilient and energised.
Now I understand that most farmers cannot, and would not, know how to have a ‘sofa day’, let alone the modern idea of a ‘mental health day’ off work. Being at home relaxing when there is so much to do outside is difficult for various reasons. Most are unlikely to rest even when they are ill. What is the alternative then? Regular and scheduled time away from the farm/farming.
What could this look like?
Conscious time away can be about hobbies, visiting new places, shopping for clothes, getting a haircut or dinner out. It is about reducing that feeling of responsibility, getting creative, feeling cared for, inspired and deserving. It is about recharging.
Then there is socialising and spending quality time with our loved ones. When we know we have people around us who try to or do understand our struggles, and that we trust and feel safe around, we know we have somewhere to turn when it all becomes too much. Ensuring we nourish our support system is vital to our mental health and resilience. In the isolating world of farming this is paramount - a sense of community, of support, of shared understanding. Pick up the phone today and arrange to meet someone for a chat.
My number one piece of advice for anyone, though, is to talk about how you are feeling. Getting it off your chest helps you to breathe. Talking about what goes on in our minds offers us the opportunity to reflect and gain clarity. Talking with someone who listens makes us feel valued, heard and cared for.
If you find it difficult to talk to your family, especially if you live and work with them, it is important that you know there is someone that you can talk to. You may worry about burdening your friends and family, in which case there are other people who are there for you. There are helplines, or a therapist could offer a safe and supportive environment which could make all the difference. Phone, video and text therapy all exist too.
Thank you all again and remember, no matter what you are feeling, you are not alone.