Emotional Health and Mental Well-Being for Farmers

For farmers, finding a good balance between work and mental well-being is a necessity for a successful business.

| January 2014

A successful vegetable farm depends on business smarts accounting, marketing, customer service as much as planting and harvesting skills. Keith Stewart’s practical advice, detailed in Storey’s Guide to Growing Organic Vegetables & Herbs for Market, will guide you through every part of professional farming. This excerpt, from chapter 24, “Looking After Number One,” explains the importance of self-preservation when you work in a stressful field such as farming.

You can purchase this book from the Capper’s Farmer store: Storey’s Guide to Growing Organic Vegetables & Herbs for Market.

Mental well-being and emotional health

If you’re suited to it, farming can be a good life, a full life, a life you’ll be glad you chose. It will also be demanding and sometimes stressful. When you’re running your own business, failures or mishaps, when they occur, will rest squarely on your shoulders. This is something you’ve got to get used to.

Some days, there’ll be too much to do and not enough time in which to do it. You may have to practice some form of triage. And of course, things don’t always turn out the way we would like. These and many other troubles — a difficult employee, a devastating hailstorm, economic hardship, an extended period of drought, an aching back, a case of the blight — are likely to surface sooner or later. When they do, we suffer — sometimes a little and sometimes a lot.

But most problems are not as bad as they seem at first. Many can be solved quite easily once you stand back and take a clear-eyed, objective look at them. Some troubles simply resolve themselves with the passage of time and little or no intervention on our part. Others are more intractable and may take considerable effort to overcome. Unfortunately, all of them, even small setbacks, can cause stress if we let them. And stress can affect our physical and emotional well-being, which, in turn, can affect our ability to farm safely and effectively.

So what’s a farmer to do? Well, as stated earlier in this chapter, a healthy diet with three square meals a day, along with adequate rest at night, are a good place to start. But let me add a few other things you can do to stay on an even keel.

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