May 21, 2024

The Zipline: Time for checking up and checking in

May is Mental Health Month. This time is a great reminder for each of us to make sure we are consistently checking in with ourselves, with our friends and family, and beyond our fencerows with our neighbors and community members.

Our mental wellness begins with self-awareness and taking the time to pause and check in with ourselves regularly. Farming is undeniably tough, and it comes with a lot of strict timetables and factors beyond our control.

At the end of a long day, week or month, it can be easy to overlook our own mental health. But I hope you will each remember that a healthy farm is nothing without a healthy you.

We need to make sure that we have self-care practices in place to manage stress and face whatever challenges come our way.

This can be as simple as making time to exercise, taking a few minutes to reflect or journal or just spending extra time with loved ones. Even small changes can make a big difference.

For me, that means starting each day reading my Bible and praying. I then carry that peace throughout my day, whatever it may bring. It’s all about finding what works for you as you face the day.

We’re not meant to go it alone, either. Please don’t hesitate to seek extra support when needed.

I’ve often said when sharing my own experience of mental health, that stress can sometimes feel like a pressure cooker waiting to pop. The quicker we speak up and share what’s going on, the quicker we can begin to find the relief and understanding we need.

Reflect on your stress levels and pay attention to any signs that your mental health may need a little extra focus.

You can also take advantage of many of our resources on our Farm State of Mind page — at www.fb.org/initiative/farm-state-of-mind — such as the newest resource, Togetherall, an anonymous online peer-to-peer community moderated 24/7 by licensed mental health professionals.

On Togetherall you can find so many tools to support you, such as self-help courses, self-assessments and free access to counseling and consultation services through Personal Assistance Services.

There is even an agricultural-specific group to share or read others’ stories who are going through similar situations.

I’m really proud of our Farm Bureau members who’ve stood in the national spotlight to share their journeys in hopes that others will realize there is a pathway forward and plenty of support out there if you seek it.

It’s also important that we make sure we are checking up on our friends and family. By normalizing conversations about mental health within our social circles, we break down stigmas and help everyone feel comfortable sharing their experiences, both positive and challenging.

Make it a habit to regularly call, text or visit your friends and family. We have so many great tools at our fingertips to stay connected, and those extra few minutes to send a message or make that call can be the difference in someone’s day.

Also, make sure to celebrate achievements and offer support during challenging seasons. A pat on the back or hand on the shoulder can go a long way.

By offering a listening ear and providing words of encouragement, you’re showing up for them no matter what.

In rural communities, neighbors are like family, lending a helping hand whenever needed. This Mental Health Month let’s extend that same spirit of support to our neighbors and community members.

Take the initiative to reach out and strike up a conversation when you see someone around town or out working in the fields.

You never know what someone’s day is like or the difference you can make. This is where the hospitality of farm country shines.

Whether it’s providing help on the farm, bringing over a homemade meal or offering a friendly smile and greeting, farmers show up for their neighbors.

Let’s all take a few extra minutes to reach out this month — and every month — and see what a difference we can make together.

And if you’re struggling with where to start or want to know what resources are available, the Farm Bureau family is here to help. We have so many great resources on our Farm State of Mind page, and I encourage you all to check them out.

Everyone needs someone during challenging times and the more we create conversations around mental health and build accountability within our communities, the more we remind them that it’s OK not to be OK.

Let’s take the time to check in with ourselves and check up on our friends, family and our neighbors.

Zippy Duvall

Zippy Duvall

Zippy Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Georgia, is the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.