Give Yourself A Break

carroll smith
Carroll Smith

As members of the agricultural community, everyone works hard. You set lofty standards for yourselves because achieving goals is hardwired in your psyche. You consciously or unconsciously set the bar higher and higher and convince yourself if you try hard enough you can clear it. Easy peasy.

And then, as is the nature of agriculture, you encounter things over which you have no control — weather, prices, labor and lack of capital to name a few. It doesn’t matter how fast you run or how high you jump…you can’t seem to clear the “uncertainty” hurdle.

You can’t “fix” it — at least not in the short term. That realization often leads to feeling stressed out, which manifests itself in lack of sleep, loss of energy, loss of appetite and an overall sense of foreboding.

But before you slide too deep down the rabbit hole, there are some things you can do that don’t cost a lot of money or take up a huge chunk of your time. For example, eat an apple or banana instead of a candy bar or a bag of chips, take a “cat nap” during the day for 15 minutes, sit on the turnrow and laugh at a couple of funny YouTube videos or spend an extra five minutes chatting with the guy at the parts store.

If you want to take getting relief from the blues to the next level, there are more and more resources out there to help. To be honest, your best bet to find what is available in your area is to “Google it.” For example, if you farm in Mississippi, you may be directed to a new Mississippi State University Extension support program that helps farmers manage stress.

One example the MSU system cites as the type of situation with which it wants to help is Tracey Porter, deputy director of the Warren County Emergency Management Agency. Her husband, Rodney, farms in the Southern Mississippi Delta. Here is her story.

Excessive rain last winter and spring kept 250,000 acres of farmland out of production this year. During the time when he would normally prepare for planting season, Rodney Porter was building sandbag levees to protect floodwaters from invading their home. She helped him when she was not on the clock assisting other affected people in her community.

“We’ve been dealing with a lot of physical and mental stress for the last few months. With me working, I never get to get away from it. I go home to it and go to work with it,” Tracey Porter says. “Rodney is still getting paid right now because the producer he works for was able to pay his men for the rest of the year, but we don’t know what next year will bring.”

That uncertainty is one example of the many uncontrollable variables producers face each year.

Obviously, there is no quick fix for these types of challenges, but you can find ways to deal with them in a positive rather than an unhealthy manner. If you are experiencing stressful times, the take-home message is to search out ways to “give yourself a break.”

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