By Peter Moffitt, FarmWise consultant.
In my role as a FarmWise consultant I often say the cows and grass are the easy part and it’s the people that are complicated. We all think differently.
We have all had vastly different historical life experiences and are all wired differently. We face different challenges on the farm and in life and are equipped differently to negotiate those obstacles. These differences are OK, they make us human. When you think about it, they are actually an evolution mechanism to help us as a species.
If we all thought the same we would not evolve to face nature’s challenges.
It seems to me that the single biggest challenge to individual mental wellbeing is learning about yourself, otherwise known as self-development. It’s so simple most of the time when we consider other people’s plights, but to assess our situation objectively can be the hardest thing in the world.
So the road to mental wellness is as much about self-awareness as it is about mental fortitude or strength. Self-assessment is so very important to enable what will work for you.
A great place to start is to put pen to paper. We all face challenges in life or on the farm. These can vary. It could be that you often feel angry or frustrated all the time. It may be that you find yourself in conflict with others. It may be that you often feel lonely or bored or that you are under too much pressure. Do you find you are overly focused on the farm? Or you spend too much time thinking about farming problems? How often do you get off the farm for a day or a weekend?
On a positive note we have many resources to help us meet these challenges. Quality and enough sleep is a very important resource, as is exercise. For some people exercise is as important as breathing oxygen or ingesting nutrients - and that’s ok.
Humans are instinctively hard wired to be social animals. Contact with others in the community is important, as are friends outside of farming.
In modern society we have developed less formal spiritually. Humankind has been programmed to have a faith in a greater power or higher purpose.
Now before you stop reading, I’m not necessarily talking about going to church or the mosque. Don’t overlook the value in spending some time in nature or to appreciate the beauty in life. Finding the time to pray or meditate can be valuable.
All of the messages above are not new.
After reading this, it may be easy to come to the conclusion that I have heard it all before. But for the more pragmatic sections of the audience please be aware of some of the real tools available. Print off and fill out some of the worksheets on www.dairynz.co.nz. I certainly found them interesting and practical. Rural support 0800 787 254 are there to help and farmstrong.co.nz is worth a look.