This is another post in this current mini series of articles relating to the #FarmerMentalHealth campaign which encourages us all (not just farmers) to break the stigma of talking about mental health and look after our mental as well as our physical wellbeing.
Firstly, the answer to the question in the title is almost certainly yes. If you are considering seeing a mental health specialist then go for it. What do you have to lose? It can seem daunting at first but these people have the capacity to turn your life around. It is sometimes incredibly useful to have ‘an outsider’s ‘ viewpoint on a situation and these people are trained in how to deal with a wide range of situations, from marriage and family concerns to work stress and other problems. There are many different kinds of therapists, and you can just as easily see somebody online as well as face to face.
For all of us however, the things below can help in improving our mental wellbeing:
1) Write down one thing each day that you are grateful for
Some people like keeping a dedicated gratitude diary so they can look back on the things that they are grateful for and see it build up over time. Alternatively you might just want to think about what you are grateful for and acknowledge it. Even in the darkest times you are likely to be able to think of something that you are grateful for. Regular practice of making gratitude lists could well help you in the long term with your general mental wellbeing.
2) Focus on one thing at a time
Writing from a personal standpoint I know that I regularly fall in to the trap of doing too many different things which can let the stress build up. It’s important first of all to acknowledge this if it’s something that you recognise in yourself. However, what it most useful is focusing on one thing at a time, getting it done and then moving on to the next. This makes it less likely for the mind to wander and for things to seem too much.
3) Do some exercise (that doesn’t involve the farm!)
Whether it is getting involved in a team sport, going for a run or joining a gym, physical exercise has an enormously positive impact on mental wellbeing. Ideally you should be looking to doing about 30 minutes of exercise a day. Timetable it in if you can. If you can do it outdoors then all the better, as this increases your levels of vitamin D and consequentially the level of serotonin in the brain, reducing stress.
4) Talk to someone about how you are feeling
A problem shared is a problem halved. Talking to someone has huge benefits. This could be somebody who you are close to or somebody like an online therapist. The important thing is to realise that there is always someone to help, no matter your situation.
5) Go to bed at a regular time
Sleep gives your body and mind time to recharge and get back on track. Sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on mood. Ideally you shouldn’t look at any screens an hour before you go to bed and you should keep your bed for sleeping or relaxing only. You should also avoid caffeine before you go to bed.
6) Make sure you eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables
You are what you eat. I am no dietician, and I’m not one therefore to give dietary advice, but eating a good mix of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals can only put the body and mind in good stead to cope with positive cognitive functioning. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in fish, nuts, sea buckthorn and flaxseed) have been shown to improve mood and restore structural integrity of brain cells.
7) Timetable time in your day to relax
It’s far too easy, especially when you are self-employed, to let work dominate your schedule. Make sure you put some time in your day to do activities that make you relax and feel better.
8) Ask for help when you need it or delegate tasks
If it gets too much, give a task to somebody else to do. Delegating is the way forward. Also question how important it really is if a task isn’t done at that particular time.
9) Set goals – although don’t make them too big
Goals keep us motivated and moving forward. However, if a goal is too big or unachievable then it can actually end up making us feel worse in the long run. Keep your goals on track.
10) Do more of what makes you happy
Whatever it is – find out what makes you happy and do more of it!