Recognizing Changes in Mental Health

How do you know when someone close to you is experiencing a mental health challenge? You may not recognize a friend is experiencing a challenge until they show noticeable symptoms like crying excessively or having a panic attack. A co-worker’s worsening mental health may go unnoticed for a long time. We may not recognize signs of worsening mental health because the person hides them. Still, we are more likely to miss signs because we do not recognize subtle signs of changing mental health.

We can become more aware of these subtle signs of mental health changes by sharpening our noticing skills. Here are some signs to notice:

  • Changes in appearance– seeming unusually tired, beginning to wear wrinkled clothes, or having unkempt hair
  • Changes in attendance– showing up to work later than normal, skipping meetings or lunch/coffee breaks. Canceling or skipping social outings.
  • Changes in thoughts- expressing more worry, fear, or anger than is normal for them. Saying things “don’t matter” or feeling hopeless.
  • Changes in concentration- unable to focus on work, very forgetful at home, extremely indecisive.

If you notice any of these signs in a co-worker or friend, think about when the changes began. Being tired for one day is not unusual, but appearing tired for three or more days might indicate difficulty sleeping because of anxiety or stress. A friend who skips one get-together might have had a simple change of plans, but repeatedly skipping (especially if they enjoyed them in the past) might be a sign that they are experiencing depression. When you notice a pattern, it is time to speak up!

Find the time and place to have a private conversation so the person doesn’t feel overwhelmed or embarrassed. Be tactful as you tell them what you’ve noticed, using “I” statements (“I have noticed,” “I am worried,” etc.) and open-ended questions to encourage them to share. Finally, don’t pressure your friend or co-worker to share information they don’t want to share. Let them know you will be available to listen or help in the future.

Pay attention to small signs of changing mental health and tell the person what you’ve noticed. Your actions just might be the help and support they need to address their mental health.

Mental Health and the Holidays

Now that harvest season is wrapping up, many of us are looking ahead to the holiday season. The last several weeks of the year are full of parties, gift-giving, and festive meals. While many eagerly anticipate this time of year, some individuals feel more anxious or depressed during the holidays. A study by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in 2021 found that 3 out of 5 people said their mental health worsened during the holiday season. Financial pressures, conflict with family members, loss of loved ones, and busy schedules were common reasons people felt stressed, anxious, or depressed.

If you notice your mental health worsening during the holidays, take hope! You can do many things to boost your mood or reduce stress. Consider these options:

  • Practice self-care. What activities help you feel refreshed or relaxed? Taking a walk around your property, watching a favorite movie, or driving through a Christmas light display in your community are all simple activities that can bring happiness.
  • Avoid negative coping strategies. It is common for people to enjoy alcoholic beverages, but excessive drinking to change your mood can harm your physical and mental health. Click here to learn more.
  • Set healthy boundaries. It is okay to say “no” or “not right now.” If your schedule is too busy, consider limiting the number of invitations you accept. If family gatherings are a little contentious, plan to stay for only an hour or two.
  • Follow your regular routine. Enjoy holiday treats AND remember your veggies and protein. Settle in for a fun movie night AND aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Proper rest and nutrition help your mental health tremendously!
  • Acknowledge your feelings. Talk to a trusted friend or family member and tell them how you feel. Sometimes, just saying words out loud can help remove a burden from our minds. Your loved ones may also be able to provide additional support.

Sometimes, our own efforts aren’t quite enough. Don’t hesitate to contact a trained professional if your mental health worsens or you experience a mental health crisis. Here are some important resources:

  • 988 – call or text this number 24/7 to be connected to the Suicide and Crisis Prevention Lifeline. A trained counselor will listen to you, support you, and share resources in your area.
  • 741741 – text the Crisis Lifeline 24/7 to connect with a trained counselor.
  • 911 – if you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts or a medical emergency, call emergency services immediately.
  • 1-800-720-9616 – The Ohio Careline is a 24/7 service that provides emotional support and connects callers to local resources.

The holidays can be a time of excitement and happiness and can also be challenging or difficult. You can take many steps personally, and many professionals can help. You are not alone. Take the steps you need to protect and improve your mental health today.

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.

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

Zoller Receives Top OSU Extension Ag Educator Award

Chris Zoller (l) is awarded the 2021 Steve D. Ruhl Outstanding ANR County Extension Educator Award by Sam Custer (r), Interim Director, OSU Extension ANR

Chris Zoller, Tuscarawas County Agricultural and Natural Resources Educator, has been awarded the Steve D. Ruhl Outstanding Agricultural and Natural Resources County Extension Educator for 2021. This honor is presented annually to the agricultural educator who shows exemplary leadership and dedication to his work on behalf of OSU Extension.

Nominated by his peers, Chris’ work on addressing farm stressors and mental health were often cited as examples of his leadership. He has presented at numerous in-services on the topic of farm stress and worked closely with the Rural and Farm Stress task force to break down the stigma of mental health issues on the farm. Continue reading