Easy ways to look after your mental health

15 May 2023

An image of two farmers talking as they walk along a farm path

The farming industry can be incredibly rewarding, but the pressures can also be incredibly challenging at times. Here are some simple ways that you can improve your own mental health, as well as the mindset of your friends and farming neighbours.

Check on your farming neighbours

A simple phone call or quick regular chat can help both you and your neighbour. By talking about pressures and stresses of farming life with someone who has similar experiences can help provide support and reduce loneliness.

Take advantage of community events

Organisations such as local vets, polices, NFU, commodity groups, Farming Community Network etc., often put on events for communities. These events give an easy opportunity for communities to gather. This again can help reduce loneliness and pressures of farming.

Keep active

While agriculture is predominantly active and out of doors, it is still important to make sure you keep active at times of the year when paperwork takes priority. Taking a regular walk outside can improve your levels of Vitamin D and endorphins, both important for improving mental health.

david exwood portrait 01

“There is help out there, and often reaching out is the first step to feeling more in control. Just remember, it starts with a conversation.”

NFU Vice-president David Exwood

Write concerns down

Often the stresses and pressures of farming and life can build up, and when they do build, they can cloud our mind and take focus away from other important things. By writing concerns down it can help you process things on your mind and help maintain balance between those important things.

Get enough sleep

As farmers, time is often a resource that is not in abundance. At various times of the year such as calving, lambing, harvest etc., sleep can often be compromised in when farming takes priority. Lack of sleep can affect our ability to process thoughts, emotions, actions etc., and therefore can have a significant impact on mental health.

Take up a hobby

Taking up a hobby or activity separate to your work can help you unwind and take focus away from stresses and pressures of life, giving something to look forward to each day. It can also be a good way to become part of a community.

Make the most of local support

There is a wide variety of local and national support groups. For further information, visit: Find wellbeing support in your area | NFUonline

Mind Your Head week

Founded by the Farm Safety Foundation, Mind Your Head week, which falls between 13-17 February 2023 this year, brings together more than 300 partners from across the UK to encourage those working within the agricultural sector to look out for each other this week, and every week.

Speaking on this year’s campaign, NFU Vice-president David Exwood placed an emphasis on the challenging times farmers and growers are currently facing and therefore the importance “that we look after ourselves both mentally and physically”.

“We already support each other in so many ways, but this Mind Your Head week is an excellent time to reach out to neighbours, friends and family to check in and make sure they’re alright. But we should feel comfortable doing this at all times.  

“By opening up and talking about our own struggles with mental health issues and how we cope with them can make others feel comfortable to talk about managing stresses they are feeling, particularly at a time of such a difficult time. 

“There is help out there, and often reaching out is the first step to feeling more in control. Just remember, it starts with a conversation.”

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