Life after a quarantine is hard. So very hard. I know I’m struggling to jump back into this new normal we are facing. For many Americans, this fast-paced, jam-packed scheduled, picture-perfect, task list-checking, stress-filled life is completely normal.
If you are anything like me, life during a pandemic really made me realize that life at home with my littles, my husband and my animals was healthier than this life we have found ourselves living.
Life is hard, but it’s even harder when we have this false ideal of what life is supposed to look like. This ideal comes from society (and I’ve found I don’t like much of what society, social media, the people we surround ourselves with and the way we were raised says is normal, to name a few).
The stress facing many of us can be crippling at times, and the toll it takes on our mental, physical and emotional health is a pandemic of its own.
I already know those who know me are probably chuckling, wondering why I am writing about stress management when I can’t seem to get mine under control. I’m chuckling along with you — but I’m also very aware of the things I need to do. I just don’t seem to ever put those into action. I’m a work in progress, folks.
I was raised on no vacations and getting the work done, and I am so thankful I was raised that way. Work ethic is very important. My husband and I always agreed that while we were teaching our kids responsibility and work ethic, we were teaching them to enjoy life.
I haven’t been enjoying life — and my guess is many of you haven’t been either. I grew up on a farm and we have a small farm now, so I know the dedication and time it takes. I have family members who don’t get it at all.
When you have living things (animals and the world we feed), there are some things that have to be done. You can’t let the hay rot in the field because you had a long week or someone is not feeling well. You can’t spend every weekend away enjoying life during the summer because you have mouths to feed and barns to clean and things that have to be done.
For all of us riding the struggle bus on a road with no end in sight, I hope these tips help you out.
• Talk about it. Talk about how you feel. There is this stigma that we shouldn’t talk about the negative things in our lives. If it’s normal to feel stressed, why do we think it’s not normal to talk about that stress? Chances are whoever you talk to may be feeling the same way.
• Move your body. Take a walk, work out, dance, run, stretch. Science shows that our bodies need movement and small movements have a significant impact on both physical and mental health.
• Relax: Relax your mind, your body and your muscles. Stretch, take a hot bath, get a massage, go to bed an hour earlier.
• Breathe. Have you ever been so stressed about everything you have to do that while you think about it, you suddenly feel like you can’t breathe, or someone frustrates you so much you feel like you might explode? Stop and take a few deep breaths. Those deep breaths remove pressure from you immediately.
• Eat well. Eat a regular, well-balanced diet. Fad diets and this diet culture we live in with the magic pills and skinny patches are not the answer. The really great thing about farmers is you probably have access to a lot of fresh, healthy foods.
• Make time for the things that make you happy. You have to set time aside for things you enjoy, no matter how small or insignificant. Don’t push away the people who love you. Make time for them. I promise you, you won’t regret it.
• Reduce or eliminate. It’s hard to understand why you are stressed unless you determine what triggers the most of your stress. Is it your job, a relationship, finances or something else? Once you identify what causes your stress, at the least, reduce or change that situation — or eliminate them from your life (legally, of course).
• Be kind. Be kind to yourself. We are not supposed to be perfect, and things will no go perfectly no matter how hard we try. There is nothing wrong with you because you can’t get your stress under control. It’s OK; you cannot control everything in your life. I’ve tried, trust me. It’s also important to be kind to others.
• Take care of you. You can’t fill someone else’s cup if yours is empty. Say this with me. You cannot fill someone else’s cup if yours is empty. You can pour and pour, but if you have nothing left to give, nobody wins.
One in five Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year, and a major impact on mental health is stress. If you or someone you know needs help, text the keyword “4hope” to 741741 or call 800-273-8255.
Submitted by Mandy Orahood, the Ohio Farm Bureau organization director serving Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull County Farm Bureaus.
OFBF Mission: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.