You might hear someone say that they are “insurance poor” meaning they are covered by any conceivable calamity that could befall themselves or their possessions but are paying a pretty penny to ensure that risk coverage. We have car insurance, home or renter’s insurance, health insurance, personal property insurance and even accident insurance. If you are a farmer you also have crop insurance and insurance for machinery, among others. We even pay for insurance on something that is unrefutably irreplaceable: our life. But, what are we doing to safeguard and insure our mental wellbeing?
The Midwest tends to embody the “pull it up by the bootstraps” mentality. This is good for instilling a strong work ethic and resilience to overcoming barriers. This is bad when it prevents us from reaching out for help or admitting we are struggling because we erroneously perceive that as weakness. Quite the contrary, many would argue that asking for help is a sign of strength because we are willing to admit that we are part of a community that is bigger than us alone and that we do not, in fact, have all the answers.
If you feel like your mental health challenges are interfering with your life, work, play, or family, then reaching out for professional help is a great place to start. But, if you just need a few coping tools to help you get through those stressful days or if you just haven’t been able to get over the stigma of reaching out for professional help, here are some tips that can help. We can’t buy insurance to guarantee our mental wellness, but if we regularly make time to practice stress-busting activities it’s like money in the bank to cushion us when the really hard times hit. And, cheaper than premiums!
- Foster optimism and develop an attitude of gratitude. This doesn’t mean we can’t acknowledge when things are difficult, but instilling the habit of looking for the positive can help build hope and actually reduce physical pain. Write down something good that happened each day or make it a routine at dinner time for each family member to share something they are grateful for.
- Get moving. Regular physical activity is a critical part of keeping our body healthy; it can also play a key role in promoting mental wellness. Regular exercise can help filter out stress hormones and stimulate feel-good hormones which helps decrease stress, reduce anxiety and depression and promote relaxation. No gym required. Find an activity you enjoy and make it a regular part of your routine.
- Nurture your spirit. From a religious standpoint this could mean connecting more deeply with your faith and those with similar beliefs who can support and encourage you. It can also mean exploring yourself to discover what brings you hope and joy, and then making time to include those goals in your life.
- Write it down. If you just can’t get something off your mind, write it down. What happened, how did it make you feel, is your worry warranted? Just let the words flow, this is only for you. This can be a tricky habit to start, but writing can be a useful release for your emotions, help you organize your thoughts and even help you discover solutions you might not have thought of.
For more information and resources on strategies to support your mental wellness visit https://www.mhfirstaid.tools/diytools
For farm specific resources also try https://extension.purdue.edu/farmstress/helpful-links/