This time a year can be difficult for personal health, but maintaining our bodies and our minds is important to maintaining the health of our farming operations. Here are some tips to strengthen the farm by strengthening yourself first:
Seasonal depression is normal for many people, but it can be especially impactful on agriculturalists who take on a lot of stress and physical labor during hard winters. For crop farmers, going from a crazy harvest season to the “dead” season can be a difficult transition as well.
Make sure to combat the potential of seasonal depression by preparing ahead of time. Get outdoors and get moving when possible. If the weather is too crummy, at least open the blinds and allow the sunshine in, or take vitamin D supplements, as this vitamin is a key factor in treating seasonal depression. Stick to a schedule, prioritize social activities, and talk to a professional if need be.
Our physical health can deteriorate when we’re stuck indoors, so it’s important to prioritize this factor during the colder months. As farmers, we know a thing or two about hard work, but we have to be intentional about the physical activity we engage in when there are a few feet of snow outside.
Make sure to plan ahead and wear lots of layers if planning to exercise outdoors, but getting out in nature can be great for your physical and mental health. You can also workout indoors if that better suits you, dedicate a small area of the home to do simple exercises each day. Experts recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity physical activity. Getting the blood flowing is soo good for all aspects of your health and can even extend your life so you’ll be on the farm for years to come!
It can be tempting to indulge in holiday treats, gorge ourselves on Thanksgiving dinner, or scavenge through the left over Halloween candy, but when our physical activity is lower we have to be cautious about the calories we consume.
Be sure to include lots of fruits and veggies in your diet during the winter months as these vitamins and minerals are important to maintain in good levels. Although you don’t have to drastically change your eating habits, you do need to be intentional about what we eat and why we’re eating it!
Preparing the Farm Future
There can be some down time during the winter months, so why not put that time to good use? Using time when you’re stuck indoors, often with other players on the farm, is a great time to prepare the future of the farm.
This planning could include “simple” things like agricultural decisions of what variety you’re going to plant next year, potentially testing a new crop in the rotation, or adding some new venture to the farm. Or, planning could include some more difficult topics, like succession and estate planning, income driven planning, or even emergency planning.
Regardless of how you decide to use the time, just make sure to use it wisely!
Michelle Miller, the “Farm Babe,” is an internationally recognized keynote speaker, writer, and social media influencer and travels full time to advocate for agriculture. She comes from an Iowa-based row crop and livestock farming background and now resides on a timber farm in North Central Florida.