• Holidays and (Mental) Health

December 16, 2019 1 Comment

By Linda Emanuel, RN, FarmHer and Community Health Nurse for the AgriSafe Network

The magic of a peaceful snow globe is captivating.  The busyness of holiday preparations, year-end closing of financial books, tax preparations, loan renewals and prepay of next year’s commodity inputs may have your snow globe resembling the topsy-turviness of a blizzard.

Many of the factors that affect agricultural production are largely beyond the control of the FarmHer. Good health and wellbeing, including mental health, is a key factor that contributes to one’s ability to keep farming.

Twenty percent of any population has mental health complications, including farmers and ranchers. Stigma and privacy concerns associated with mental health issues may mean that many people do not seek out available care.  For agricultural populations, stressful events might include:

  • Financial concerns
  • Farm transition planning
  • Personal or family concerns
  • Work-related injuries
  • Change in farm policies
  • Loss of crop or livestock
  • Weather events

Ask yourself these two questions:

  1. During the past two weeks, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?
  1. During the past two weeks, have you often been bothered by little interest or pleasure in doing things?
*If you have a positive response to either of these questions, consider talking to your health care provider about further assessment. You can also access self-screening tools by clicking here. 

 

AgriSafe is here to encourage you to have a mental health conversation with your trusted health care provider.  Share with them your mental load, unique to your work as a producer.  Prolonged stress may have an accumulative effect on your physical wellbeing.  Symptoms such as headaches, abdominal discomfort, recurring illness, and or exhaustion may occur.  When you talk to a health professional:

  • Be pro-active; ask about potential signs of stress, anxiety, or depression
  • Speak openly about stressful issues in your work and home life
  • Be familiar with your family medical history related to depression or other contributing behavioral issues
  • List any prescribed and over-the-counter medications you take
  • Be aware of smoking habits and alcohol intake
  • Inquire about a referral to a mental health specialist
  • Know what your insurance coverage may (or may not) be for evaluation of mental health care 

Our brains deserve good care just like the other organs and systems.  Try these new coping strategies to achieve good brain health.   

  • If you farm, it’s hard to take a vacation. Consider exchanging coverage with a neighbor so that both families can take a much-needed break.
  • Resolve to reconnect with friends who feel like family.  Positive individuals who comfortably share a table conversation.  A shared table is a shared life. Absorb yourself in those conversations.
  • Track your sleep for a week.  At this moment, write down on a piece of paper the quality restorative sleep you strive for or need and then the actual sleep hours you are achieving.   Are you depriving yourself of adequate rest?  Quality and quantity of sleep helps to boost our immune function, metabolism, memory and learning.  Sleep has a role in the consolidation or cementing of new information learned during the day so that we may recall that new piece either consciously or unconsciously.  Click here for 30 tips and tricks for better sleep per the work of Nebraska extension educator Susan Harris-Broomfield who specializes in rural health, wellness and safety.
  • Choose simple exercises!  AgriSafe now has a YouTube channel to engage in everyday stretches which are practical to do at home.  Check out the “Legs up the wall” pose.

It is a therapeutic alternative to putting your feet up and effective at relieving lower leg pressure as well as lower backaches.  An additional bonus of this exercise is the deep breathing utilized to decrease tension.  By elongating the exhale during this breathing exercise, you trigger a state of normalcy within your body.   Take a moment to practice.  I often do this exercise and immediately note my tense shoulders relax, facial tension and creases soften and heart rate drops. 

Achieving the serenity and magical wonder of the season is a gift to yourself.  After all that you give to others, give yourself permission to feel worthy of these self-cares.

For more information regarding the work of AgriSafe Network please see our website.  Additional mental health information may be found on our resource, Mental Health and the Impact on Wellness.  

On behalf of the AgriSafe Network and myself, we sincerely wish you the happiest of Holidays!




1 Response

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January 10, 2020

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