Folks, we live in a dark and stressful world.
Turn on the television, and you’ll be bombarded with negative headlines.
Head into the local coffee shop or grain elevator, and you’ll hear of another farm family going out of business or another young kid who left your rural small town in hopes of a brighter future.
Scroll through social media, and it seems political discourse and divide is greater now than ever before.
Pay your bills, and you quickly notice the prices of your input costs and basic essentials continue to go up.
Not everyone is facing the same battles, but I’m quite certain everybody is facing something.
No matter which challenges your family, your farm, your ranch, and your business is going through, know that you are not alone.
Stress, anxiety, worry, fear, and depression can wreak havoc on our minds, bodies, and businesses.
And in agriculture, there seems to be the attitude of shove those emotions deep down and get back to work. We tend to not ask for help. To handle things ourselves. And to just “tough it out.”
Yet, I’m learning after a rather stressful year in my own family, that we simply cannot and should not struggle alone or ignore the root causes of the stress without getting to the bottom of it.
So today, I’m here to remind you that it’s okay to not be okay all the time. I’m here to tell you it’s okay to reach out to a loved one and share what you’re going through. Chances are, you’ll feel better after the conversation, and the person on the other line of the phone call might need the boost, too.
I recently read through a reference page on farm and ranch stress from Purdue University Extension.
Purdue asks, “What is the most important asset on the farm?”
The answer — it’s you!
According to Purdue, “If you were to ask a group of farmers this question you might receive many answers. Those involved in crop production might say the land. A dairy farmer might say the cows. Some may mention equipment, grain storage and handling systems, a confinement hog building, a greenhouse, or some other physical asset, depending on the type of farming operation. The Purdue Farm stress believes the most important farm assets are farmers, farm families and farm employees. Everything else is replaceable. You are not.”
Purdue says we need to use the acronym “B.R.A.I.N.” to better cope with stress.
B - Breathe. Breathe deeply five times. Release air slowly.
R - Relax. Tell yourself to relax, whether in your head or out loud. Notice areas of tension in your body, and try to release that tension.
A - Ask. Ask yourself what you need or want to feel. We usually ask why the other person is a jerk or why we goofed up. Instead, ask yourself what you need to feel: calm, in control, at peace, etc.
I - Imagine. Imagine feeling that way.
N - Now. After doing those four things, ask yourself, “How do I feel now?”
Hopefully, this helps you to navigate through stressful periods with your family and the farm. Reference the Purdue resource for additional support materials on managing stress at home.