Agriculture is all about seasons: planting, growing, harvesting. Some seasons tend to be busier than others. And those are the times we tend to ignore our health and wellness in exchange for making the most of each day.
But not paying attention to our physical and mental health comes at a cost. Productivity goes down, stress goes up, and bad things are more likely to happen. So it’s important to have a plan going into those busy seasons — what are ways you can get the job done and take care of yourself? Because a healthy farm is nothing without a healthy you.
So here’s some tips and tricks to keep yourself going when you need it the most.
1. Plan meals in advance to get balanced nutrition
I know this is a big issue for my family when we’re running a tractor or combine across the fields all day. It’s so much easier to grab some fast food than come up with a balanced meal three times a day. And, you know, there’s no kitchen in our tractors (… yet). So after a long day, there isn’t time or energy to cook a hot meal.
But making sure you’re eating well can make a huge difference! The secret really isn’t so secret: plan ahead. That way you don’t have to make those decisions when you’re the most tired and short on time. It also helps to craft a list to make grocery shopping efficient and effective.
Most people struggle to get enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Obviously, busy seasons on the farm make that even harder. But try to incorporate them into every meal. And don’t forget that a banana or apple are easy, mess-free snack ideas that travel inside the cab well.
2. Stay hydrated
I know it’s been said a million times before, but I don’t think we can say it enough: drink more water! When we get dehydrated, our energy plummets and we feel tired. And we constantly lose water throughout the day from breathing, going to the bathroom, and sweating. So when you’re active and busy, you’ll need even more water to make up for it.
According to Mayo Clinic, the amount of water you need varies from person to person. On average men need 15.5 cups and women need 11.5 cups a day. That probably seems like a lot. But most of us get a substantial amount — around 20 percent — of water from foods we eat. Fruits and vegetables are a great source (and see my first point).
Make sure you get enough water each day by packing a small cooler with bottles of water. Or buy a water bottle with a freezer core to help keep your water cool throughout the day.
3. Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is a huge deal! We often treat it as something that we can forego when our to-do list is a mile long. And stressful circumstances can keep us up whether we like it or not. But sleep is absolutely vital to everyday success. According to the National Sleep Foundation, healthy sleep is good for our physical and mental health, boosts productivity, and improves our quality of life. So how can you achieve quality sleep?
I’m a big believer in sleep hygiene, a set of daytime practices and habits that help a person get quality night-time sleep. The suggestions include keeping a bedtime routine, avoiding caffeine and alcohol 30 minutes before bed, maintaining a pleasant sleeping environment, and limiting daytime naps. I don’t function well on a little sleep, so I include these practices regularly and I’ve noticed a big difference when traveling or during stressful times.
Start now so you’re rested and in a routine when busy seasons roll around.
4. Find a minute for gratitude
Research has shown that focusing on things we’re thankful for can make us more optimistic, happier, and even visit the doctor less. It doesn’t take a lot either: it can be as easy as jotting down a few things that we’re thankful for each week. Yet when we’re busy and stressed, even a small task like that seems like a chore no one has time for.
So try this: Thank the people you’re working with for the help they’re giving, even for mundane things. It will definitely make your co-workers happier and feel better. And it will remind you to appreciate the small gestures around you.
And if you can remember, try to take a few moments about all those blessings in your life. Come on, we all have down time. Whether you’re refilling the planter with seed, the tractor with gas, or the tank with fertilizer, there’s moments there. Use them.
5. Keep perspective
This too shall pass. No matter how stressful, how difficult, or how strenuous this season will pass. It’s happened before and it will happy again. Try to keep the small things in perspective and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Amanda Zaluckyj blogs under the name The Farmer’s Daughter USA. Her goal is to promote farmers and tackle the misinformation swirling around the U.S. food industry.