#MindYourHead – how small changes can influence wellbeing

14 February 2023

Hannah Cuthbert

Hannah Cuthbert

Former Student & Young Farmer Ambassador

An image of Hannah Cuthbert leaning against a gate

For #MindYourHead week, NFU Student & Young Farmer Ambassador Hannah Cuthbert shares some tips and tricks she calls on to help her own mental health, or would suggest to struggling friends and family.

The agricultural industry is undoubtedly the most resilient out there. Whether it be summers like we saw last year, supply chain issues, soaring energy bills or uncertainty as BPS reduces, farmers are constantly battling the various factors that effect their livelihood and businesses.

With long hours, financial pressure and often isolated workplaces, farmers are more susceptible to their mental health being under strain. According to the Office for National Statistics, the suicide rate for male farm workers is three times the male national average.

While a problem shared is often a problem halved, the burden that people carry can affect their mental health significantly.

In recent years, there has been a lot more emphasis on checking in with friends and family and encouraging discussions about industry struggles.

However, there is still much to be done.

Five ways to help yourself and others

I always find it useful hearing about tips to help my own mental health or help support a loved one, so even if you’re not struggling yourself, they may help get the conversation started if you think someone is struggling.

My five tips are:

Enjoy your surroundings

Farming is such a hands-on job, so we are all usually pretty active. But taking time out for a walk around the countryside can improve your mental health. It also serves as a reminder of why you’re farming in the first place.

The suicide rate for male farm workers is three times the male national average.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Schedule in breaks

It’s easy to forget to take a break and with a to-do list that’s never-ending, taking breaks seem to fall near the bottom.

Try taking regular breaks, even if they’re only short to get away from your work and have a chat with someone, whether that’s round the kitchen table, a FaceTime with a friend or a quick text exchange.

Make a list

On the topic of to-do lists, take some time to keep a list of everything you need to do – on and off the farm.

Prioritising these different tasks means you can manage your time better and make time for yourself.

Five a day

We all know the good quality food farmers produce and when you’re in the industry we certainly don’t take it for granted.

Ensure you’re getting your veggies in (when in season of course!). Looking after your physical health in turn looks after your mental health.

Listen to a podcast

Podcasts have taken the world, and the farming world, by storm. When you’re sat in your tractor cab until well into the night or milking in the parlour in the early hours of the morning, it serves as a bit of company.

Whether you want to tune in to Agrii’s tramlines podcast on regenerative agriculture or something non-farming related, there’s podcasts for all interests.

So while we’re entering a busy time for the farming calendar, making time for yourself and your loved ones is so important. The list above is only small changes but if you or a loved one are struggling, I have found these tips can have a positive impact on your mental health.

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