The mind and body are two of the most powerful bits of kit a farmer owns, but compared to maintaining machinery or tending livestock, self-care is frequently overlooked. “If the mind is not well maintained, the consequences can be disastrous – not just to the farmer, but to the farm business and the household too,” says Charles Smith, chief executive at the Farming Community Network.
Thanks to a campaign in the rural press, mental health doesn’t carry the stigma it once did in the farming community. “As more awareness is raised, the ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality that has been entrenched in farming is slowly diminishing,” he explains. “People are beginning to open up and talk about how they are really feeling. But the fact that the number of those taking their own life is not decreasing shows that much more needs to be done.”
If the mind is not well maintained, the consequences can be disastrous.
Charles Smith, FCN
One of the most important steps is to recognise when you or a loved one is struggling. There are several signs to look out for, says Mr Smith. “This can include eating more or less than normal, mood swings, poor sleep and forgetfulness. Poor mental health can also significantly contribute to physical symptoms such as back pain, psoriasis and migraines.” Identifying these signals is a key step in getting help and taking back control.
So how can you promote a better work-life balance and a happy mind?
- Take time out
This is easier said than done but taking time out for you and your family is important. Whether it’s removing yourself from a stressful situation for a while or going on holiday, taking time out can have a positive effect on mental wellbeing.
- Chill out
Getting enough sleep will relax the mind and help you cope with stressful situations. Simple relaxation techniques like breathing deeply can be an effective way of dealing with this.
- Leave it out
Watch what you eat and drink. Junk food, alcohol and caffeine will only raise your stress levels. Focus on improving your diet and drinking plenty of water. A sound body equals a sound mind.
- Talk it out
Dealing with stressful situations alone is never a good idea: Ask for help. Having a simple conversation about things that make you stressed – whether with a friend, family member, or charity – may help you see things differently.