“Mom, I love you all the way up to God and back.” As I left the preschool room this morning, I heard the pitter-patter of little feet chasing after me. I walked Harper back in to her class and told her all the right “mom stuff” to convince her to stay put. But I’m not going to lie, some days it just feels good to be chased after.
As I drove back home that day, I felt my stress load rising. On top of my husband being gone for nearly a week, my to-do list was overflowing, my kids were going in three different directions, and quite simply, I felt alone in all of it. A perfectly stressful way to start the month of April, which is National Stress Awareness Month.
Spring can be one of the most hopeful and exciting times of the year. For example, our yard is greening up, our barn is full of 4-H projects that keep our kids happy and busy, neighboring fields are being prepped for planting and the birds are singing in full force. Anticipation is in the air.
But spring offers its share of challenges too, especially for farmers. Between muddy fields, cloudy days, delayed planting, disease breaks and manure pits that need pumped, the stress adds up fast.
When anticipation gets dashed by unavoidable circumstances, it can be hard to stay positive. So how do we manage the stress that will inevitably come our way? Some people find relief by unplugging from social media, spending time pursuing a hobby, exercising, meditating or being outside in nature.
For me, friends help me de-stress. A Washington Post article says strong relationships breed better health with benefits that include resilience against heart disease and a longer life.
I don’t know about you, but when life gets stressful, one of the first things that goes is my time with friends. Experts say prioritizing relationships is more important than ever.
“A good friendship is a wonderful antidepressant,” said psychologist Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at the Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus. “Relationships are so powerful. We don’t always appreciate the many levels at which they affect us.”
A growing body of research suggests that good relationships actually lead to better health, the article said. Many studies have revealed biological theories that may explain what makes us healthier when we feel supported: lower blood pressure, better hormone function, stronger immune systems and possibly lower levels of inflammation.
Kiecolt-Glaser said it’s worth making a conscious effort to be the kind of friend you’d like people to be for you. That includes being supportive, being there when friends need you, having fun together and making an effort to listen, even when you’re busy or stressed out.
There’s no denying that times are tough in farming right now. Uncertainty looms, questions remain, fears are rising. But we aren’t in it alone. And we need to remember that. Go check in on your neighbor.
Editor’s note: If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please reach out to a mental health professional immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers 24/7 free and confidential support at (800) 273-8255.
More by Jennifer Shike:
The Night My Husband Tore Down the Barn to Save a Cat
Emerging Technology, Emerging Leaders
5 Lessons FFA Taught Your Mother