Why it’s important to make time to connect
The abundance of digital communication tools means that reaching others has never been easier. Having meaningful face-to-face interactions is not as easy.
In an industry built on handshakes and connection, taking time to communicate with family, friends and colleagues on a personal level supports mental health. It also makes good business sense.
Spend more time together
Jody Carrington, psychologist, best-selling author and public speaker, says prior generations were much more present with each other, both physically and mentally, than those of us living in a digitized age.
Connecting regularly... can have a big impact on strengthening relationships.
Larger houses and farms mean people are more easily separated for longer periods of time, and we have more distractions in general. Fewer social opportunities to express powerful emotions such as grief, combined with potential discomfort with talking about how you feel, increases disconnection.
This reality takes a psychological toll on everyone in the industry – but particularly on middle-aged men, a demographic with the highest rate of suicide among farmers according to research.1
“The biggest issue we’re facing in agriculture is disconnect,” Carrington says. “We used to at least have dinner with the kids. We’d say, ‘Let’s ride in the tractor, I’ll show you how to do things.’”
Connecting regularly, even in seemingly small ways, can have a big impact on strengthening relationships.
Build a healthy relationship with technology
Proactive use of digital tools can facilitate meaningful connection as well. Tiffany Martinka, a Saskatchewan poultry and sheep farmer, began using social media to remedy feelings of isolation after shifting from an active career to becoming an at-home mother.
The trick was to “connect and create, rather than consume.” For Martinka, that meant diving into agriculture advocacy by sharing her story – farm life, business challenges and parenting three children, one of whom has a medical condition which can further limit opportunities to gather. Social media has helped her engage with others including farmers, parents, industry groups and schools despite being remote.
“It can be a great tool if we are able to use it in the best way possible. But it can be a bit of a black hole,” Martinka says. “When I find myself consuming more than connecting and creating, it’s time to take a break.”
Martinka’s advocacy also generated in-person connection opportunities, including as a participant in Chicken Farmers of Canada’s Young Farmers Program, and as director for Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan.
“You need other things to get your mind off everyday challenges. We need multiple sources to fill our cup.”
From a Rooted in Resilience article by Matt McIntosh.