Stressed Out? Here Are Some Mental Health Resources for Farmers
Farming is full of challenges that can take a toll on your mental health, even under the best of circumstances. But particularly in these uncertain times—as a global pandemic impacts just about every aspect of life, including commodity markets and the food supply chain—identifying ways to support mental and emotional wellness is critically important for farmers.
May is Mental Health Month, and in some ways it couldn’t have arrived at a more timely moment. With that in mind, we at Farmers Business Network℠ want to offer you encouragement and provide you with some resources to remind you that you are not alone.
Take time to practice self-care
As the stressors associated with farming mount, finding time and space to care for yourself can feel increasingly difficult. But it’s precisely because of these stress factors that you need to practice self-care in the first place.
There are plenty of resources out there that can help you cultivate practices that nurture mental and emotional wellbeing. Find routines or rituals that are going to work for you.
Here are just a few ideas that can help you take care of yourself:
- Develop a regular exercise routine
In addition to being good for your physical well-being, exercise has the potential to reduce stress. It’s likely that your daily routine already involves physical activity, but finding time for more recreational exercise—going for a walk, riding a bike or even online workouts—can go a long ways toward self-care.
- Read for pleasure
Ag publications are nice, but maybe pick up a book or magazine that will take your mind off of farming for a while. Try a classic novel or check out a magazine covering a topic that interests you.
- Write a list of relationships and things for which you are grateful
Gratitude is a helpful practice in any season of life but can be particularly beneficial when you’re experiencing stress.
- Reconnect with an old hobby
Remember that old tractor restoration project you started a few years back? Now might be a good time to revisit it (for inspiration, check out our efforts to restore a 1954 Farmall Super C tractor). Or maybe there’s a new hobby or household project you’d like to take on. Find something that you can retreat to when you need to lower your stress levels.
- Change up your listening routine while in the cab or working in the shop
Find a new playlist on a streaming music service or dig into a new podcast. Shameless plug: If you like farm talk mixed in with a bit of lighthearted humor, tune into Off the Husk, a podcast produced by Millennial Farmer (and FBN member) Zach Johnson.
- Find time to sit in silence
Whether it’s spending time in prayer or meditation or simply pausing for a few minutes to take in a sunset or listen to wind roll over your fields, embracing silence can bring a sense of calm amidst everything going on around you. If silence is too much of a challenge, there are plenty of nature and instrumental tracks you can listen to through an app like Calm.
- Meet with a counselor or therapist
More on this in the next section, but finding someone with whom you can talk candidly about issues and struggles you’re facing can be, well, therapeutic.
Whatever you do, remember that taking time for self-care better equips you to care for those around you and manage the challenges you face each day.
Find strength in a support network
When working through mental health issues, it’s all too easy to feel alone. And those feelings of isolation might be even more intense right now as some of the social networks you’re used to connecting with—from morning coffee to religious services to events in your community—may have all experienced varying levels of disruption depending on local response to the pandemic.
It’s helpful to seek the support of others. Reaching out to family or friends is a great place to start. After all, they know you well and care deeply about your wellbeing. Commit to sharing some of your struggles with people you trust and talk through ways to address some of the challenges you are facing.
Furthermore, there are online forums and groups designed for farmers that can offer you added sense of connection and remind you that you aren’t alone in these endeavors. As an FBN member, you can navigate to the Community tab in your FBN app in order to connect with other farmers, post questions on any variety of topics and provide support to others.
FarmAid has a hotline (1-800-FARM-AID) and a dedicated support team who can connect you with resources as well as local or regional networks set up to help farmers succeed. It’s available during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET).
Sometimes circumstances in life can feel overwhelming, even when you’re doing your best to care for yourself and are surrounded by a strong support network. It’s important to know there are trained professionals available to listen and help in times of crisis, both for you and for your loved ones.
A licensed counselor or therapist will be well-positioned to listen to you, provide resources and help you develop strategies for supporting mental and emotional well-being. Your insurance provider should be able to explain your coverage and help connect you with an in-network professional near you. Some counselors and therapists even offer virtual visits, which can help address some challenges posed by geography or schedule.
In the event that you are experiencing a mental health crisis and need immediate support, here are three resources that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Dial 800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now
Dial 211 or visit 211.org
- National Alliance on Mental Illness Crisis Text Line
Text HOME to 741741
It’s important for you to know that you are never alone. There are people—family, friends and others—who care deeply about you and want to help you achieve greater mental and emotional well-being.
Health coverage designed for farmers
If you’re looking for an affordable health plan for your operation that includes mental health services, take a closer look at coverage options available through FBN Health. It takes less than 15 minutes to complete our online application and receive a free quote from one of our insurance brokers—no FBN membership required.