Health is the most important asset for any operation, says Sean Brotherson, an Extension family life specialist at North Dakota State University. If you look at the list of assets typically associated with a farm or ranch operation, you might see equipment, livestock or land, but rarely is the health of those who work in the operation listed.
He argues if it’s the most important asset, it needs to be the most important priority in managing your daily life and farm operation.
“In times of stress, we need to depend on our health for our functionality and decision making,” Brotherson explains. “For example, we depend on our equipment in agriculture to help us do our job during key times of the year. Just as important as it is to have that equipment in good working condition when we need it, the same is true for our health. Our health helps us be resilient in times of stress.”
Brotherson suggests picking three simple healthy habits you can do every day to help mitigate stress. Then, find someone to hold you accountable to following through with those habits. Healthy habits include:
• Visit with a healthcare provider, he advises. Stress can add physical challenges or exacerbate existing health issues.
• Get a baseline sense of where you are in your health and functioning.
• Exercise every day – even 15 to 20 minutes is helpful for stress reduction and health management.
• Drink four to eight glasses of water daily.
• Plan regular mental breaks during the day to relax and recharge.
• Slow down, listen to music, connect with nature, take a short walk or watch a funny video.
• Take regular five- to 10-minute breaks in your day to relax and recharge.
• Connect with a resource where you can talk and share concerns you might be feeling – for some that’s prayer and for others it’s talking to a family member, counselor or mental health professional.
• Do random acts of kindness.
• Express “thank you” to someone daily (send a note, etc.).
• Write down three things you are grateful for daily.
• Social connections are important – stay connected with a friend or a group of friends or family members who give you a sense of social engagement.
• Learn more about your family history.
• Reflect on and write down your goals.
If you need immediate help, call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.
More from Farm Journal's PORK:
To learn the signs of suicidal risk and find more resources to help you manage mental and physical stress, visit www.AgWeb.com/rural-health.