Okay, we know farming is not easy, and there can be significant stresses. Farming is like a rollercoaster.–volatility is the only constant. Not only are commodity prices down, but we have struggled with some terrible animal health issues recently. I felt during this time of uncertainty: it was time to write a letter to all farmers.
I am sorry you are having to go through this. It’s been rough. The weather, commodity prices, trade issues. The list seems never-ending. Yes, you are getting attacked from all sides. But there is hope. Here are a few suggestions to keep you going.
1. Remind yourself the situation is out of your control. And, then tell yourself again, “it’s out of your control.” And along with that message, talk out your frustrations. Talk to family, friends, and neighbors. Share your frustrations and concerns. Keep talking, and don’t isolate yourself.
2. We are all in this together. Remember, others are going through the same thing you are. Listen and reach out to them. Show empathy and concern toward others. Be aware of red flags. If your fellow farmer is not acting right, please reach out and take appropriate action. Remind each other that the farm does not define who you are.
3. Understand tensions are high. Things that generally don’t bother you will bother you. You may lash out. Take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay. Keep your priorities straight. Ask yourself: What is important in your life?
4. Count your blessings and ask yourself what are you grateful for. Acknowledging the good things in your life. Do something kind for someone else. It’s good for your soul.
5. Keep busy. It may something as simple as fixing things on the farm. It’s therapeutic and it keeps your mind busy.
6. Make sure you are well-rested. Take care of yourself. Eat properly.
7. Take time for yourself. Get off the farm. Take a walk. Go to a movie. Go out to eat. Better yet, invite some other farmer friends to go along.
8. Keep your humor. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at your circumstances–even if it’s inappropriate. It may seem inapropriate. Give yourself permission. It’s okay and good for you to laugh, even if it makes absolutely no sense.
9. Do something you enjoy. If need be, force yourself to do something you enjoy. It’s okay. No, it’s really okay.
10. And pray. There are things that are completely out of your control. Don’t shoulder the burden. Pass it on to God.
If these don’t work, there are professionals that can help. Please reach out and use them. Don’t let the stress eat at you. Contact your state Department of Agriculture. For Minnesota, please contact Ted Matthews 320-266-2390.
I wish farming were not so stressful. If consumers only knew what farmers go through to put food on their table, they would have a renewed respect for farmers. The sacrifices we make are beyond what most people can imagine. But we love what we do. Yes, there are days you may want to throw in the towel. And logic tells us we probably should some days. But farmers persevere. But we have our limits too.
We can only believe that better days are ahead. That’s what keeps us going . . .
More Mental Health Sources for Farmers: