As the month of April is now upon us and May is fast approaching, we can start to feel the pressures of getting everything prepped and itching to get in the fields to prepare for planting. May is seen as one of the busiest months of the year for farmers. As farmers are in their fields, planting plans can be disrupted by equipment breakdowns, storms that bring weather delays, and changes in expenses for seeds, fertilizer and fuel. The stressors of feeling too much to do in a short period of time, long days working, and constant problem solving can take a toll.

So, what can be done to help you cope through the stress?

Focusing on compassion and being a listening ear for those that may be struggling. It may also be necessary to suggest seeking a professional that they can speak with.Focusing on compassion for yourself can look like giving yourself a breather, as you’re spending time in the tractor spreading manure, cultivating, seeding, and so forth.

Self-compassion is done by speaking to yourself as you would a friend that is going through a difficult time. Recognizing where frustrations are coming in, especially around no set times of when things will be done, having a thunderstorm in the midst, things breaking, and prices of everything going up. Check out the strategies below to help with dealing with stress: deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and grounding activities.

Focusing on compassion for others includes focusing on feeling the emotions experienced by the person who is suffering.This can be done by listening intently, even if it is for a shorter period due to the rush of being in the field. It also includes focusing on actions that attempt to relieve physical and emotional pain, such as:

  • meal prepping to make it easier around lunch and dinnertime
  • taking the time to help prep things like the tractor, the seeder, the manure spreader,
  • picking up parts, seed, or fertilizer
  • understanding and working through the other jobs that may feel as extra because your partner is busy in the field.

Planting season comes with stressors and pressures that everyone experiences, taking the time to be compassionate towards yourself and others can be helpful in more ways than one.

Strategies for managing stress:

  1. Deep Breathing. When we’re stressed or anxious, our breathing becomes shallow. When we take a moment to breathe deeply, we’re telling our bodies that it is okay to relax. Try box breathing: breath in to the count of four seconds, hold for four seconds, then breathe out to the count of four, hold for another four seconds, and repeat a few times.
  2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Body tension can be released by taking a few minutes to tighten and loosen each of the muscle groups in your body. Starting with your feet, tighten the muscles and hold for a few seconds, then release. Next move to your legs and work your way up to your head.
  3. Grounding activities. In the state of stress, we’re often worried about the past or the future. Grounding techniques help us connect to the present moment. Try the ‘Five Senses’ exercise by naming five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can (physically) feel, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.

Mandy de Boer is a Registered Psychotherapist who works in Arthur and in Fergus at Compassion Counselling Services. She was born and raised on a dairy farm just outside of Arthur, and through this has come to understand farming stressors firsthand. In session, Mandy helps individuals who are feeling frustrated, stressed and unheard become satisfied with themselves and their relationships and supports clients through discovering their history, uncovering unknown patterns and understanding emotions. Mandy emphasizes compassion and empathy to those suffering and is committed to each client’s well-being.

Have you checked out our NFMHA Swag in support of farmer mental health? We have a fantastic ball cap, the sweatshirts are of high quality, super cozy and are perfect for those cool spring mornings and evenings. Proceeds go towards supporting farmers in rural communities in their mental health journeys. Follow the link in our bio to find the 'NFMHA Sho#FARMSTRENGTHr#farmstrongf#farmerselfcaree#BornToFarmb#farmingisinthegenesi#lovemyfarmerv#supportfarmerso#farmermentalhealthn#farmerwellnesse#AgMentalHealthn#farmersofinstagramfinstagram ... See MoreSee Less
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