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Keep up the Conversation!

Keep up the Conversation!

By: Bridget Britton Behavioral Health Field Specialist

As May winds down, so does Mental Health Awareness Month, but that doesn’t mean it we stop talking about mental health. Working in agriculture is often an all-consuming profession. Here are some helpful tips to work on reducing stress and maintaining positive mental health.
Many farmers live where they farm, there is no physical boundary between them and work. Work/life balance is a consistent challenge for many. Are there strategies that might be helpful to farmers in recognizing when and how to draw a line? It’s important for them to find ways to create effective boundaries between the various aspects of their lives. Encouraging to think about three things in order to maintain the work-life boundaries that make it easier to function effectively.
• Be explicit with yourself about when you’re working, and when you’re not working. This could take the form of a schedule or simply setting rules for yourself (like “when I’m in the kitchen, I’m not working”). This will look different for everyone.
• The second strategy is to multitask as little as possible. One of the benefits of drawing these effective boundaries is that it allows you to be fully present in what you’re doing in the moment. If you’re spending time with your family, for example, and notice your attention wandering back to unfinished work tasks remind yourself to focus on what’s happening in front of you.
• The third strategy is to give permission to put things aside when you need to. It can be difficult to allow yourself to take time for exercise when there is work to be done, but it’s important to recognize that making time for each of these roles will be helpful in the long run.
So what if someone is still feeling overwhelmed? There are often a lot of continuing stressors going on. Are there coping tactics that can help us to manage how we approach these issues?

• Often times we want to focus on things that we can not control such as weather, politics, or market prices. This can continue the cycle of stress and anxiety. However, we can put emphasis on things we can control such as our reaction to these stressors, identifying when we may need extra support, and utilizing coping strategies.
Finally, farming is a very physical job, so it is easy to convince ourselves that we are getting “exercise” in our day-to-day, but manual labor does not always equal exercise. Highly-repetitive movements that come up in farming could contribute to injuries in the long run if you’re not able to incorporate other forms of exercise. In addition to the straightforward physical benefits, it’s also helpful to think about exercise as a way to make time for yourself and often times get off the farm.

• Running, walking, or jogging
• Weightlifting• Swimming
• Riding a bike
As always if you or someone you know is struggling and may be in a crisis, please reach out for support. Do not hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Check out OSU Extension’s resources at go.osu.edu/farmstress

References:
https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2001-120/pdfs/2001-120.pdf

https://www.uky.edu/hr/sites/www.uky.edu.hr/files/wellness/images/Conf14_Boundaries.pdf

Find Your Joy by Haley Zynda (Originally from Dairy Excel)

Find Your Joy

By Haley Zynda

Dairy Excel – Submitted 4/28/2022

 

During the week that I wrote this, I was able to create and give a presentation to a local Rotary Club on preparing landscape beds and selecting flowers for the garden. Not even close to being a dairy topic, but it gave me joy. From the content shared to the photos used to the people listening, I had so much fun with this program. In the state of agriculture today, with input prices skyrocketing and uncertainty for the future, it can be incredibly hard to find the joy in what we do. However, finding the joy and clinging to that joy is what will bring you through hard times.

In fact, finding the joy has some health benefits, too (UC Berkeley). As if we don’t need another thing to worry about with a wet and cold spring and the price of soybean meal, our health and wellness need to come first. Without a farmer, there is no farm.

One way that happiness can physically affect our well-being is through heart health. Happy people tend to have lower heart rates and blood pressure. Additionally, happy people may have better immune systems. Studies have shown that when individuals are exposed to the cold virus, those that reported happy emotions leading up to exposure were more likely to stay healthy and those with negative emotions were more likely to become sick. People that experience more happiness also tend to have a lower cortisol (stress hormone) level. This can also play into the immune system. Not only are happy people experiencing less stress, but lower cortisol levels do not strain the immune system like elevated levels do.

Other studies have shown that happiness can help injuries recover more quickly, or at least mitigate some of the pain in the process.

Positive emotions have been able to lessen the pain of chronic pain, such as arthritis, according to clinical studies (Zautra et al., 2008). The risk of stroke has also been assessed in regard to happiness. Elderly people reporting positive emotions were less likely to have a stroke, especially men, compared to those reporting negative emotions.

Last, but certainly not least, happiness can prolong our lifespan. A famous study showed that the happiest people outlived the unhappiest by an average of 7 to 10 years (Danner et al., 2001). Think, almost a decade more to enjoy life, grandkids, and the world surrounding us.

There are a variety of places on and off the farm to find joy to keep us going. If you are religious, perhaps it’s the opening hymn on Sunday mornings. Perhaps it’s the bawl of a newborn calf. To give some inspiration, I’ll share my farming joys:

New bedding in the barn | The smell of freshly turned earth | The newborn call of a lamb | Hanging up the Carhartt for the season | The smell of mowed grass | The feeling of a spring breeze | Putting away the planter | The smell of good hay | Watching a new litter of pigs snuggle up to mom | Feeding mealworms to my hens | Letting the sheep on pasture for the first time | Watching “lamb-pedes” | The first pass with the combine | The last pass with the combine | Enjoying a meal made with homegrown veggies | Placing the last square bale | Examining the data on the year’s lamb crop | Bedding down the barn on Christmas Eve | Collecting eggs | The first lamb of the year | The last lamb of the year | Harvesting our own animals to feed the family | The sound of animals eating | The quiet of a winter night | The sound of spring peepers in the pond | The colors of a spectacular sunrise | The first frost | Late night lamb checks | The people I share the farm with

You can take them as inspiration or find your own. If you are lucky enough to have a spouse or significant other that shares your same passion for farming, it is even more exciting to share in these joys with one another and to be someone to lean on if your partner can’t find their joy that day.  Find your joy, cling to it, and you will get through the hard times.

When the Rain Won’t Let Up

By:  Bridget Britton, Behavioral Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Each morning when waking up recently it feels as though we look out the window and it is either raining or has rained overnight. Farmers are natural meteorologists and are in tune with what is going on with the weather at any given hour of the day.

According to Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University Extension climatologist, there has been measurable rainfall on all but 3 days so far in the month of April. Wet weather and planting delays are sources of additional stress. Though we can’t know for sure when the fields will dry up enough to plant, there are things you can do to keep some of the stress from overwhelming you.

  • Get moving: This is normally when the physical activity starts ramping up. You might not be out busy in the fields yet but start prepping your body and mind now by doing whatever exercise you enjoy to get in the right mindset. This “exercise” might include working on equipment, cleaning your shop, or catching up on things you’ve been putting off.
  • Make time for laughs: Have you ever heard laughter is the best medicine? Well, it might not be the best, but it can help. Make sure you find time to spend with your funny family member or employee. You know who they are. Continue reading

Champion Series: Meet Nathan Brown, Ohio Farmer (Originally from North Central Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Center)

See Original Article Here

Nathan Brown is a first-generation farmer in Highland County, Ohio, where he raises corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, and sheep and has a cow-calf operation. He got involved in agriculture around age 12 by working for a neighbor. Through the efforts of several neighbors, he started his own farm in 2002.”We have been able to grow the operation from its small start to an operation that is sustainable and supports our family and allows us to support our community.”He has been involved with many organizations in the agricultural sector over the years and currently serves on the Ohio Farm Bureau Board and the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation Board. He also serves as a township trustee for Union Township in Highland County.

“As a person who is always striving to better his community, mental health and mental health in agriculture have become areas that need more attention. Agriculture has some of the greatest and most caring individuals I have ever met involved in it and to me is one of the most rewarding careers that a person could have.”

Nathan remembers noticing the demeanor in agriculture changing in the past five to eight years.

“Guys were starting to struggle again after the big runup in commodity prices in the early 2010s. It was alarming to me to hear that in agriculture, even with its great people and great way of life, people were harming themselves and being successful at suicide at an alarming rate. As the conversations started to focus on mental health more, the need to push those conversations and break the stigma became even more obvious. Our friends and neighbor are hurting and the stigma around mental health is holding us all back from getting the help we desperately need.” Continue reading

Can Talking About Death be the best Valentine’s Day Gift? (Originally Published in Farm & Dairy)

Author:         David L. Marrison, Coshocton County Ag & NR Extension Educator

Hello, Northeast Ohio! On Monday, we celebrated Valentine’s Day. So, what did you give your loved one on this special day? Was it roses, chocolate, or maybe an edible fruit bouquet? Your display of affection may have also included a sentimental card, a bottle of Ohio wine, or candles. Each is an excellent way to express love.

In addition to the aforementioned love overtures, our Ohio State University Extension farm succession team encouraged attendees in our four-week “Planning for the Future of Your Farm” webinar series to add a different twist to this year’s Valentine’s Day celebration.

What was this twist? Our twist was for farm couples to enjoy a romantic dinner complete with all their favorites foods and then to sit in the glow of candlelight and talk about a very important subject; this being their individual mortality. Continue reading

Tensions of Farm Succession Webinar Offered

For many farms, transferring the farm to a next generation is the ultimate legacy goal, especially when transferring within the family. But it’s not all rainbows and roses. Farmers focus on the technical details of transferring assets, much like machinery repair: if you put the right nut with the corresponding bolt … voila, you have a plan. But succession planning involves humans, with corresponding emotions. Research around farm succession has identified several “tensions” that can cause stress during the planning process. Those areas of tensions include:

  • Financial concerns
  • Control
  • Change
  • Inheritance distribution
  • Communication

If farm families/farm partners can identify their potential tensions and approach the plan with their tensions in mind, they can avoid some of the common “stalls” or pitfalls many farms face. This webinar will discuss these tensions and ideas on how to address them, including the value of a facilitator to help navigate potentially stressful but necessary conversations. Continue reading

Join us at the Small Farm Conference

Here are the details for the 2022 Small Farm Conference & Trade Show. Be sure to stop by the Farm Stress booth and say hi. We have some great resources to send home with you.

No need to feel alone in the field. Our new and small farm conferences provide connections that will last long after the event.

  • Do you own a few acres that you want to be productive but you’re not sure what to do?
  • Do you have a passion for farming and turning your piece of this wonderful earth into a food producing oasis?
  • Do you own land or forest that you’re not quite sure how to manage?
  • Do you raise or produce products that you would like to market and sell off your farm but you’re not sure how to make it successful?

Continue reading

Tensions of Farm Succession Webinar

Tensions of Farm Succession Webinar
Tuesday, February 22
3:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET

For many farms, transferring the farm to a next generation is the ultimate legacy goal, especially when transferring within the family. But it’s not all rainbows and roses. Farmers focus on the technical details of transferring assets, much like machinery repair: if you put the right nut with the corresponding bolt … voila, you have a plan. But succession planning involves humans, with corresponding emotions. Research around farm succession has identified several “tensions” that can cause stress during the planning process. Those areas of tensions include:

  • Financial concerns
  • Control
  • Change
  • Inheritance distribution
  • Communication

If farm families/farm partners can identify their potential tensions and approach the plan with their tensions in mind, they can avoid some of the common “stalls” or pitfalls many farms face. This webinar will discuss these tensions and ideas on how to address them, including the value of a facilitator to help navigate potentially stressful but necessary conversations. Continue reading