A happy new year involves mind as well as body
Many New Year’s resolutions focus on fitness and weight loss. What sort of mental health resolutions might farm families consider?
Simplify your life
Simplifying your life helps improve your psychological, physical and financial health. Try cutting down on these:
- Possessions: Reduce the number of things you own and don’t really need or use such as clothes, trinkets, kitchenware, tools and even equipment.
- Decisions you need to make: Create routines, protocols, rules. Limit your choices when deciding on a purchase.
- Projects: Don’t take on more than you can handle. Limit the number, scope and frequency of small and large projects.
- Activities: We can become too busy with both our own and our children’s activities. Each activity often takes more time than anticipated.
- Interpersonal conflicts: Choose your battles. Learn to let go.
- Goals: Prioritize and retain the most important ones.
Learn to say no to what’s insignificant if you want to say yes to what’s essential. And choose to simplify your life – one step at a time, one area at a time – to maximize satisfaction, efficiency and well-being for you and your loved ones.
Learn to be resilient
The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
Farming is considered one of the world’s most risky and stressful occupations. With so many uncontrollable factors, it’s no wonder. At the same time, farmers tend not to talk about their problems, or seek help when they need it. This makes them more at risk for mental health concerns and illnesses such as depression, anxiety and even suicide.
Given this reality, it is imperative that farmers (and those who support them) learn more about stress management and develop resiliency. Try this four-step Mental Health Resolution Plan (adapted from Difficult Times: Stress on the Farm).
- Be aware of your own stress levels. How stressed are you today? What are some of your stress symptoms? There are many free stress-management apps for your mobile phone. Try a few to find one that works for you.
- Learn to accept that some things are outside your control. Weather, pests, animal disease, etc., are not measures of your own personal success or failure.
- Develop good coping mechanisms. Make sure you are eating, sleeping and exercising. Take breaks, breathe and spend time with loved ones. Find a trusted friend or professional to talk to if you need help.
- Take action to include mental health as an integral part of your personal and farm business plan. Talk to a doctor. You’re worth it!
Balance physical, emotional and social needs
Making intentions to stay or become physically healthy and focus on nutrition is in itself a great resolution, because you are already contributing to your mental health.
A recipe for mental wellness requires a balance of physical, emotional and social attention. By taking care of ourselves with exercise and proper nutrition, we have the “physical” side of mental health taken care of – bonus!
For the other spectrums, humans are social creatures and we require quality interaction with others to stimulate our social wellness. Whether it’s a tailgate supper, lunch around the kitchen table or morning coffee at the local shop – a resolution to spend more quality time on a social level with family and friends would be a great step towards supporting one’s mental wellness.
When it comes to emotional wellness, resolving to “feel your feels” could be a great way to start 2019. We have a wide array of natural emotions and it is important to experience and go through them versus stuffing them away. Whether you’re feeling sad or mad, happy or glad, resolving to talk to someone or explore those feelings yourself can make a big impact on your abilities to cope.
Download Rooted in Strength: Taking Care of Our Families and Ourselves to read real stories, find resources and get expert advice for better mental wellness.
From an AgriSuccess article (January 2019).