Building a mental health toolkit for ag communities


The start of a new year and a new decade can symbolize a fresh start or new beginnings. However, for many the new year can generate feelings of failure due to missed opportunities or goals not previously met. Additionally, the holiday cheer and socializing amplified in November and December often comes to a screeching halt at the beginning of the year and tends to bring about feelings of sadness, emptiness, and depression.

This past year was an especially difficult one for our farmers. Mother Nature provided a vast amount of issues to extend the harvest season. Weather issues combined with financial burdens and the economy added to farmers’ stress levels. This stress combined with long workdays can take a toll on mental health.

We would be naïve to believe that adults are the only ones feeling stress. Farm families, including children, are not immune to feeling stress. Therefore, after a primary focus on farm safety for the past 25 years, Progressive Agriculture Safety Days is turning their attention to the overall health of children living in rural and agricultural communities. 

As we kickoff 2020, let’s strive for a year that is not only successful, but less stressful for our families living in agricultural communities. Let’s vow to strengthen our mental well-being and stress management by building a mental health toolkit with some New Year’s resolutions worth keeping:

  • Adopt better sleep habits — Prepare yourself for a restful night’s sleep by securing a comfortable environment by turning off electronics, lights and other distractions that may stimulate the brain.
  • Begin an exercise regimen — Start with small changes by opting for the stairs over the elevator and take stretch breaks during the workday.
  • Find a hobby – Don’t be afraid to try something new or go back to doing something you enjoy.
  • Take a social media break — Put down the smartphone or turn off the computer.
  • Utilize stress management techniques — Try yoga or meditation, to get you to a relaxed state.
  • Get organized — Use a planner and set goals for yourself. You will feel a great sense of accomplishment crossing things off your list!
  • Keep a journal — Instead of dwelling over negative thoughts, put them down on paper and then you can “close the book on them” and enjoy your day.
  • Volunteer — Not only does it feel good to help a friend or give back to your community, but volunteering is a great way to connect and cultivate relationships.
  • Strengthen your communication skills — Reach out and talk to someone, as well as be a good listener.
  • Treat yourself, as well as others, with respect — Remember, we are all human, we make mistakes, and we miss goals, but maintaining a positive outlook is key.

Progressive Agriculture Safety Days is recognized as the largest rural safety and health education program for children in North America. For more information or to locate a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day near you, visit Help send another child to a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day in 2020 with a modest donation of only $13. Donate by texting the word “SAFETYDAY” to 44321.

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