Whilst life on the farm has been quiet in the last month, life in general has kept us well occupied. Daily chores are limited to milking, checking stock and some fertiliser once a week. The dry weather hasn’t affected us too much and we would hope to mow our second cut in a little over two weeks.
This week is International Men’s Mental Health Week and while it may not get too much publicity it certainly is a week our agricultural industry should highlight. Farming is still a predominantly male dominated industry and lets be honest, us guys are not the best at discussing our feelings, yet research clearly shows there is a 50% chance each one of us will struggle with our mental health at some point during our farming career. Even more frightening is the fact that a greater number of farmers are lost to suicide than farm accidents, both here & in the UK every year. It’s a topic that often goes under the radar, but we need to discuss it openly, in order to further reduce the stigma and highlight the great support network that is available.
The key thing is to be proactive & build resilience. Each and every one of us needs to focus on our mental wellbeing on a daily basis. Whilst it may seem like a task it is merely down to focusing on the simple things such as;
- Eating well
- Ensuring we get a good night sleep
- Being honest with how we feel
- Focusing on the positives (big and small)
- Making time for life outside of work
- Realising we can only control what happens today, what happened yesterday is done
- Taking time out to for family of friends
- Seeking help if required
Simply by ensuring we focus on all these small areas will ensure we are in a strong place should a crisis arise and let’s be honest, we all have to deal with crisis during our path through life. In so many ways we can treat our daily lives like we can looking at social media. Many will say social media is a volatile place, there certainly is a lot of negativity in some areas of it but as in life we have the choice to ignore the volatility whilst surrounding ourselves with positivity and positive people. Listening to negativity on social media is very much like listening to the negativity within us, by not listening to it we quite simply take away the power of negativity.
Having said all that for some life can be harder to cope with and need more support. I for one have experienced difficult times in my life. I experienced a period of crisis where I simply didn’t look after my mental wellbeing, to a point where I lost all control of my feelings, felt I couldn’t cope with life itself and found myself crying for absolutely no reason. Being extremely honest with you when depression hits it scares you beyond belief. At the time it was equally as scary merely asking for help but looking back I am so glad I took that step is asking for help! Paula accompanied me to our doctor who in turn pointed me in the direction of a counsellor. As daunting as it seemed at the time, the relief I felt on leaving each session far outweighed the challenge. I always believe when you struggle with mental health you never fully recover but learn how to control it and live life in a positive way. It has taught me to enjoy life more and focus on the simple things ensuring I have good positive mental wellbeing.
The important thing to remember is, if you are struggling with your mental health there is always someone willing to listen and there is so much support available. Ultimately no problem is too big that it can’t be sorted. Likewise, it is important we look out for each other, you never know how someone else is feeling so be mindful.
I was lucky enough to record a podcast on mental health with the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers yesterday so if you get time check it out on their website.