6 Things You Can Do To Stay Resilient This Harvest Season

Self care doesn’t have to be forgotten during harvest season, it just means that it may not look like lounging in hammocks reading your favourite book.

Self care can be as simple as taking a big breath, rolling out your wrists or stretching out your calves. Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. During busy times of the year self care becomes even more important yet sometimes harder to fit into our busier than normal schedules. We have compiled 6 easy ways for you to care for your health that all take under 5 minutes to execute. You are worth caring for. We are rooting for you to have the healthiest and most successful harvest you’ve ever had!

1. Start your day with stretching

In order to move efficiently, muscles must be able to slide and glide against one another. The more you move, the more efficiently your muscles are able to move. When you go for long periods without movement, your muscles become less efficient which means that movement starts to put extra pressure on joints and tendons which take longer to heal. It also creates something called muscle fuzz, where the muscle tissues starts to bind together making moving harder. When you start your day with a quick 5 minute stretch you wake your muscles up and get rid of this fuzz so that your muscles can slide and glide with ease making your body feel strong and capable of handling the day. Check out this post to learn how you can Stretch for your Mental Health.

2. Set gratitude or breathing alarms in your phone

At the beginning of the week or on a lunch break, take a moment to set a daily alarm in your phone preferably at a time of day when continuing on feels tough (like 3pm for most people) to express gratitude. When the alarm goes off look around you and express three things that you are grateful for. You can also do this with taking conscious belly breaths. When the alarm goes off take 3-7 deep belly breaths. These act like a mini reset for you in your day and can interrupt negative thoughts. You can even set multiple throughout your day. We all need reminders to unfurrow our brows or let out shoulders fall back away from our ears during busy times of year.

3. Write out an affirmation for the day and stick it in your pocket (or someone else’s pocket)

Remember when you used to get a note in your lunchbox as a kid and how awesome it was but also how you snuck it into your sleeve so that the other kids wouldn’t see it? Well bring that back! Write yourself a little note in the morning and stick it in your pocket or stick it on your windshield so that you see it and it reminds you how awesome you are. How capable you are. How valuable you are. How resilient and strong and handsome and beautiful and kind you are. Make it unique to you! Know what else is awesome? Write one out for your family or your friends helping you out on the farm and give one to them.

4. Take a moment to give your team a high five

We all need to be reminded that we are doing a good job. A high five is one of the simplest ways to celebrate the people around you and give them a little pick me up.

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We all need to be reminded that we are doing a good job. A high five is one of the simplest ways to celebrate the people around you and give them a little pick me up!

5. Drink lots of water

Seriously. Hydration can have such a huge impact on our overall well being. If you start to feel overwhelmed and see your stress signals start to show themselves, grab for a glass of water and drink. While the human brain is made up of about 75 percent water, the first way that dehydration affects the brain and alters how we think and feel is by slowing circulation. This lowers blood flow, which means less oxygen travelling to all parts of the body, including the brain. Staying hydrated by drinking enough water is one aspect of good physical, emotional, and mental health.

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Did you know that as you start to drink more water, your cells become better at staying hydrated and in turn you won’t have to go to the washroom so much!?

6. Take 2 minutes to read this inspiring speech from 18 year old Tia Schram

During Stampede this year 18 year old Tia Schram took her opportunity on stage to speak mental health. We think that everyone in agriculture should read what she has to say. Below is her speech.

The Next Big Thing in Agriculture

The market is down, two waterers are frozen, the barn is full with cows to calve, the tractor won’t start, and the meteorologist is calling for the coldest winter to date.

You have put in a 24 hour day, and it’s not over yet. You are exhausted, mentally drained, and feel as though nothing can go right. Although tomorrow is a new day, nothing is going to change. Try feeling like this every day. Helpless, exhausted, alone.

Mental illness is a rising issue in today’s society and is becoming more apparent within the agriculture industry. The next big things for the future of Agriculture is addressing the mental health of farmers and starting a conversation about it. The health of livestock producers goes beyond the physical risks, and needs to consider the long hours, taxing work, and uncontrollable factors that farmers face on a daily basis.

Farmers work in acres, not hours. Whether it be getting hay off the field before it rains or waiting for a cow to calve, farmers do not complete a day’s work until they are satisfied that their duties have been fulfilled for the day. When looking for a job, one would often consider the number of hours required to work, the salary, benefits, and holidays. With a job as a livestock producers, one sacrifices all the flexibility and stability of a 9-5 job. From an urban perspective, a career this demanding may seem crazy, but to agricultural enthusiasts, this is our lifestyle.

The combination of physical requirements, broad knowledge, and emotional situations make any job in agriculture extremely difficult. It is required that one be able to pull a calf, lift large amounts, and fix everything with their hands. In addition to having an understanding of mechanics, animal science, plumbing and nutrition. On top of all these requirements, it is expected that little emotion is displayed when something does not go as anticipated. The work a farmer does is not easy, and often goes unnoticed, therefore making farming one of the most physically and mentally taxing jobs in the world.

What makes farming such a difficult job mentally is the factors that are out of our control. As much work as one puts in, and as much as they try to prepare, the weather, health of livestock, and markets are uncontrollable. There is a constant uncertainty regarding profit or loss for a year’s work because of these factors. With farming, there is no guaranteed paycheck, regardless of the amount of work put in. It takes extremely strong people to work in agriculture. This generation seeks stability, and that is a leading reason why fewer youth are staying on the family farm and pursuing careers in agriculture. It is not a matter of work ethic, but rather economic stability and flexibility.

When a 25 year old, passionate about agriculture, takes his own life, we are forced to reconsider why we chose to work in this industry. Mental illness is a big part of the wellbeing of farmers, and should be considered to the same extent as physical risks. In 2018, three of my role models attempted suicide. It came as a shock to the farming community, as these men were some of the most successful producers. There was no sign that they were hurting, and they had too much pride to ask for help as many farmers do.

The cowboy mentality is to never show emotion or weakness. Expressing a need for help –especially for mental illness- is often viewed as a sign of vulnerability. Detecting a mental health issue is much more difficult than diagnosing a physical injury or disease. This makes it that much more challenging for a farmer to ask for help. Although mental health concerns do not show the same visible symptoms of a physical injury that does not mean that the level of treatment should change. Depression and anxiety are diseases, not impairments, and are not something to be ashamed of. Farmers need to understand and embrace that.

Treatment begins with a conversation. Communication is the root to providing a support system for farmers and members of the agriculture industry. It all starts with ending the stigma around mental health and creating an environment where farmers can feel comfortable expressing concerns regarding their mental wellbeing, and an atmosphere where they feel safe asking for help.

“We need to keep our people in society, but help the through society. We also have to help society learn about mental health, mental health issues and how to deal with them… It really hurts to hear of losing people that I have been associated with because of something that we are not doing enough about- in my opinion. Mental health isn’t something we should be hiding.” –Bryce Morland

Mental illness is a rising issue in today’s society and deeply affects those involved in the agriculture industry. Although seeing baby calves running around in the spring, and finishing a long harvest in the fall are extremely rewarding experiences, getting there is never an easy task. The daily grind, exhaustion and uncontrollable factors take a toll on mental health. No other career path offers so many risks and so much economic uncertainty. There are several cases of depression and anxiety that go unnoticed and untreated within this industry, with a handful of them ending tragically.

So when you are thinking about the future and sustainability of agriculture, you must consider the men and women behind the industry, because the next big thing is addressing mental health issues, not hiding them.

So even though the markets are down, the waterer is frozen, and nothing is going as it should. You are not helpless, and most importantly, you are not alone.

 

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