Protecting your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak
Currently, the world as we knew it just a few short weeks ago no longer exists. Remember handshakes? They’re a thing of the past – for now, at least.
As an industry, agriculture is used to adversity. From extreme weather to activists, farming has faced a fair few foes over the years – except none of them quite compare to a global pandemic.
Unfortunately, farmers are no strangers to mental health issues, either. A survey carried out in February of this year by the Farm Safety Foundation revealed that 84% of farmers under 40 believed mental health issues were the biggest danger, and, in 2018, 83 suicides were registered among people working in agricultural and related trades in England and Wales.
These statistics paint a bleak picture, but, during times of hardship, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. If you are struggling at the moment, here are some things you can do to protect your mental health:
Challenge yourself to stay in the present
There are things you can do right now, and it’s helpful to focus on those:
• Wash your hands
• Observe social distancing (where possible)
• Limit your exposure to the news
During times like this, it’s easy for worries to snowball – when you’re not only thinking about what’s happening in the present, but what could happen in the future – which can only be intensified when working in isolation, as many farmworkers do.
When you find your worries spiralling out of control, try and bring yourself back to the present moment. Take notice of the things around you, like what you can see, smell, taste and experience. Engaging in gentle mindfulness exercises can help you stay grounded when things feel like they’re out of your control.
Stay connected, and reach out if you need extra support
We’re in this together, even when we’re apart. Make sure there’s someone (whether they’re a friend or a relative) that you can talk to about your feelings – don’t struggle in silence.
At the beginning of April, NFU Mutual announced a £32m support package for customers and communities that had been affected by COVID-19. This package encompassed extending cover for key workers, enabling those who want to help communities by transporting medicines and groceries, and supporting those who are now working from home.
If you are feeling particularly anxious, or if you’re struggling with your mental health, it’s okay to reach out to a professional. A full list of rural support groups in the UK can be found in the National Rural Support Groups directory, which is available from the YANA Project, or by download from yellowwellies.org.
Give yourself a break
Coronavirus is impacting all of our lives, and, the truth is, nobody really knows how to deal with the reality of a global pandemic.
During difficult times, it’s important to be kinder to yourself – after all, you are trying and doing your best. Being kinder to yourself, and practising self-care, can help you control the amount of pressure you feel in different situations, which can, in turn, help you feel less stressed.
For more information about supporting yourself and others during periods of uncertainty, you can check out Yellow Wellies’ Guide to coping with the stresses of COVID-19. Remember, we are.
Remember: It’s not all bad news
It can be easy to become overwhelmed when so much of the media coverage that we’re exposed to is negative, and focuses solely on coronavirus. In light of this, we’ve found some feel-good stories from agriculture over the past few weeks, to try and restore your faith in humanity:
- There has been a ‘record demand’ for agricultural jobs in the UK, with one recruitment website witnessing a huge 83 per cent spike in applications
- Millions of British people have tried a vegetable box scheme, or are buying directly from the farm as a result of the COVID-19 crisis
- Morrisons has given a 5% discount to farmer suppliers, as part of their #FeedTheNation campaign