Mindfulness is a state of mind where you are tuned into your surroundings and your body. When you are mindful, you are absorbed in the present moment and paying attention to what’s happening here and now, rather than thinking about the future or past. You are observing your feelings and thoughts without judging them. Mindfulness is a beneficial practice for everyone, but it can be especially useful for farmers or those who live in rural areas. Here’s how farmers can use mindfulness to relieve stress and improve their mental wellness.
The Mental Health Benefits of Mindfulness for Farmers
Farming requires a lot of planning and thinking ahead. It involves factors that are out of your control, such as unpredictable weather conditions or changes in the market. These stressors can be difficult to cope with, and can take a substantial toll on your mental health. According to Alma Jorgenson, a farmer from Minnesota who runs a rural mental health program, focusing on the present moment can help reduce anxiety when you’re feeling uncertain about the future. Farmer Andrew French says that practicing mindfulness meditation and yoga helps him maintain an optimistic attitude and stay focused, which helps him reduce the number of injuries and accidents he has while farming.
Focussed Farmers recently investigated the effects of mindfulness on farmers’ mental health. They found that farmers who participated in their mindfulness course for eight to 20 weeks had significantly lower stress levels, an improved state of mind, and even increased self-discipline.
While mindfulness offers specific benefits for farmers, it is beneficial for all people living in rural areas. Mindfulness has been shown to improve well-being and emotional regulation. Not only does mindfulness benefit your mental health, but it can help you improve your relationships and work more efficiently. Research shows that mindfulness can also help with decision-making, learning, creativity, and empathy.
How to Practice Mindfulness on the Farm
There are many mindfulness exercises that are easy to practice as you go about your day. Tuning into your senses is one way to stay grounded and bring your attention to the present moment. Focus on what you see, feel, hear, smell, and taste. This is a useful exercise to keep your mind from wandering when you’re doing physical tasks like caring for animals or cleaning equipment.
Breathing deeply for a few minutes, or simply observing your breath, is another simple way to practice mindfulness. This can be done while sitting in your tractor or truck, or during moments when you have an opportunity to pause. You can also listen to guided mindfulness meditations either by downloading a free app or browsing meditation videos on YouTube. Find one with an appropriate length and content that works for you – some are only 5 minutes long. You can listen to it before you get ready for the day, while you’re walking, or when you take a short break.
Another easy way to practice mindfulness is to engage in mindful eating by minimizing distractions while you eat, and focusing on the taste and texture of your food. Take a moment to appreciate your food and consider the work and preparation that was put into it – especially if it came from your farm. To remain present, try to avoid using your phone or doing paperwork at mealtime. You might find that you feel more relaxed and recharged after your meal!
Mindfulness is a simple yet effective strategy to add to your toolbelt. The more you practice it, the easier it will become. Try to implement it into your daily routine for the best results! If you’re interested in learning more about mental wellness and stigma in rural communities, feel free to browse our collection of rural mental health resources.