As we near the end of summer, big things are starting to happen. Between local county fairs, making hay, kids starting school and preparing for harvest season– life is about to get pretty busy.

It is no secret during this time of year we prioritize what needs to happen versus what our bodies might need (like sleep). Here are some helpful tips to help keep the farm running smoothly while keeping your mental health in check.

1. Remember to Eat.

When we get focused on what has to happen to get the crops off of the field, we forget to refuel the most powerful thing in the field: our bodies. Taking time to eat allows for a few things to happen:

  • Your brain remains sharp, decreasing brain fog
  • Gives you energy to complete the tasks at hand
  • Provides the nutrients your brain needs to help you feel good and accomplished at the end of the day
  • Increases your ability to stay focused as well as problem-solve quicker.

As this busy season approaches, it is easy to prioritize everything that everyone else needs. Eating allows not just your body to have the energy you need, but it also helps your mental health stay at a healthy level.

2. Set Realistic Goals.

It is no secret that to be a farmer you have to be good at multitasking. It is no secret, either, that you have to be good at prioritizing what things have to be done when. Sometimes, in the midst of getting things done, we set some pretty unrealistic and lofty expectations of ourselves. When we set these unrealistic expectations, it can really take a toll on our mental health. The toll can come in various ways:

  • Increase fights with coworkers, friends and family members
  • Losing motivation to do things that you love
  • Decrease in sleep
  • Increase in mistakes in the field.

One way to beat the stress is by setting yourself up with realistic goals. Realistic goals should be:

  • Simple in nature
  • Have a clear way to determine when you reach that goal
  • Is actually attainable for you to do without overstretching yourself
  • Has a clear timeline to accomplish that goal in.

Sounds simple enough. But implementing? That is the tough one. There is a lot of science behind why setting realistic goals up not just improves mental health, but boosts productivity:

  • There is a clear expectation for you to meet
  • Once the expectation is met, your brain allows you to feel good about accomplishing it
  • This sense of accomplishment improves motivation
  • Meaning, more work gets done.

3. Take a 15- Minute Break.

Before you stop reading, hear me out. Allowing yourself to take a 15-minute break to do something you enjoy (or 15-minutes to focus solely on what you enjoy), allows a few things to happen:

  • A chance for your brain to refocus on the tasks you’re trying to complete
  • Releasing feel-good chemicals in your brain, which reduces your stress levels (and frustration levels as well)
  • Returning to the task at hand with new energy and motivation to do it.

These 15-minute breaks can be done during various activities. Whether it is grooming your show cow, cutting up ingredients for dinner, or even just standing and soaking up the sun. Being fully present in these activities (even if you need to do them), gives you a chance to enjoy the moment you are in.

4. Teach Someone to Help You.

As farmers, we are more than people who tend the land. We teach the youth in our homes and neighborhoods the skills they need to continue this way of life. When we teach someone a new skill, this benefits us in several ways:

  • It builds a connection to the person we are teaching, which increases trust, communication and respect
  • Prepares for certain tasks to get done quicker in the future (for example: teaching someone to fix fence can help keep animals safe while you are gone harvesting corn)
  • Creates a sense of community and pride.

Now, teaching can slow things down in the beginning. This is a great way to get a jump start on the harvesting season maintenance, 4-H projects, and perhaps, dinner.

These are just a few things that can help you keep your mental health healthy during the upcoming harvest season. If you find yourself struggling during this time, please reach out for help. Mental health does not have to be faced alone.

This blog was written by Carissa, MA, LPC, CSAC (she/her) from the The Joyful Mind, LLC. Visit her website and Instagram page to learn more about the services she provides to farmers and those that live in rural communities.

In addition to helping farmers connect with psychotherapists that are culturally competent and experienced in agriculture, we also offer comprehensive Mental Health Strategy support options for organizations and Agriculture Informed Therapy (AIT) training for psychotherapists servicing rural areas.
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