Farmstrong: Make Your Wellbeing a Priority

This article is taken from the Spring 2022 edition of Avoscene magazine. 

Farmstrong is a nationwide, rural wellbeing programme that helps people to cope with the ups and downs of growing and farming by sharing things they can do to look after themselves and the people in their business, especially during challenging times.

In 2021, Farmstrong researched the pressures facing those working in horticulture. There was a high level of interest among growers about learning more about improving their wellbeing. Farmstrong now works collaboratively with the sector, using industry channels and publications to promote discussion on the topics that matter most to growers. Farmstrong also creates tools and resources based on the latest wellbeing science specifically tailored for farmers and growers. These are available for free on the Farmstrong website

Sam Whitelock, Farmstrong ambassador and former All Black, shares his insights below on how to manage when you’re feeling ‘under the pump’.

Managing Pressure

It’s important to recognise when you’re ‘under the pump’ so you can do something about it. We all only have so much ‘coping capacity’, so when multiple things are coming at us, life can be a juggle and stress shows up in different ways. Some people become irritable. Others go silent and withdraw. What are your tell-tale signs? The Farmstrong ‘Under the Pump’ checklist is a good place to find out.

Prioritise Workload

There’s always a to-do list as long as your arm on an orchard. That’s why it’s important to prioritise your work, especially during busy times. What are the top two or three tasks you need to work on today? Once you’re feeling back in charge of your schedule, your stress levels will hopefully go down.

Look After the Basics

When we’re really busy, the things that go out the window are often the things that keep us well and help us cope. Make sure you eat well, get enough quality sleep, keep active and do the hobbies or activities you enjoy. Anything that boosts your mood and energy levels will help you manage busier periods.

Schedule Recovery Time

I embrace pressure as part of my job, but when I get the opportunity, I also step away from it and make sure I recharge. That’s because I’ve learnt, no-one can just go ‘hammer-down the whole time’; you need to step away. I head home into a different world after rugby, so I make sure I’m not just focusing on one thing. If you’re only thinking about rugby or horticulture all day, every day, of course it will start to get on top of you. So it’s important to do something else, whether it’s with your family or a hobby or catching up with mates outside the industry. Something different. If your current workload won’t allow that, build minibreaks into your day. Even a fifteen-minute break to ‘reset’ mentally and physically can make a big difference to how you feel.

Keep Perspective

Many people only know me as a rugby player and rugby is a big part of my life, but the reality is I also have other things going on in my life, so when a setback happens on the field, I don’t let that define who I am as a person. Yes, losing a rugby game still hurts but I tell myself, I’m still a father, a husband, a son with a great family. That’s the most important thing. Sometimes you’ve just got to accept your setbacks and move on. Remember, a setback also offers an opportunity to learn and do better next time.

Have A Natter

I know through the work I do for Farmstrong, how important it is to keep talking and check on those who might have ‘dropped off the radar and stopped communicating’ during challenging times. Just listening can be a huge help to someone who is feeling ‘under the pump’. So, if you see someone struggling, start that conversation, ask them how they’re going and make time for a proper catch-up, whether it’s over a coffee or at the pub. Visit the Farmstrong website to brush up on your listening skills beforehand.

Make Your Wellbeing a Priority

Treat yourself and your team as your orchard’s biggest asset. Make wellbeing a business priority and invest in the simple habits that make people more resilient – connecting with mates, learning new things, keeping active, enjoying simple pleasures and helping friends and community.

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