Supporting Mental Well-Being for Kansas Farmers and Ranchers
By CHIQUITA MILLER
Ph.D., LMAC, CFLE
Family and Consumer Sciences Agent
Farmers and ranchers in Kansas face numerous challenges and responsibilities on a daily basis. From tending to crops and livestock to managing finances and dealing with unpredictable weather conditions, the stress can be overwhelming. As a result, it is crucial to address the issue of mental exhaustion within this community.
Mental exhaustion, also known as mental fatigue, is not a new concept. However, unless you have personally experienced extreme tiredness or fatigue, you may question the importance of understanding this condition. As someone who served in the United States Army, I can relate to the feelings of mental exhaustion. Trying to adapt to the army’s demands, including sleep schedules, military food, and increased physical fitness, stretched my well-being to its limits. That experience was my introduction to mental exhaustion.
Mental exhaustion encompasses physical and emotional symptoms such as anger, sadness, and a sense of powerlessness. It can also have an impact on work performance and overall productivity. Chronic or long-term stress plays a significant role in mental exhaustion. Understanding the effects of mental exhaustion is crucial not only for farmers and ranchers but for everyone.
Think back to the last time you felt completely exhausted after a long day. Not only does your body feel tired, but your brain also feels drained. Mental exhaustion can affect physical performance, making even simple tasks feel physically demanding. This happens when your brain is continuously stimulated without sufficient rest.
There are several common factors that contribute to mental exhaustion. Those who work or study for long hours with limited breaks, deal with overwhelming responsibilities daily, live with mental health symptoms, or invest significant energy in problem-solving and stress management are more prone to mental fatigue. Ongoing mental exhaustion can negatively impact various aspects of life, including relationships and daily activities.
While mental exhaustion can happen to anyone, it is possible to take preemptive steps to lower the chances of experiencing ongoing fatigue. Here are a few strategies to consider:
1. Take time off regularly: Give yourself permission to rest and rejuvenate by taking regular breaks and vacations.
2. Plan time for self-care: Engage in activities that bring you joy and help you relax, such as hobbies, exercise, or spending time with loved ones.
3. Rest when you feel sick: Recognize the importance of rest when your body needs it, especially during illness.
4. Stay connected: Maintain healthy relationships and seek support from friends, family, or support groups.
5. Know when and how to say no: Overcommitting yourself can lead to increased stress levels. Learn to set boundaries and prioritize your well-being.
It’s important to acknowledge that individuals working or living in high-stress environments, such as farmers and ranchers, are particularly susceptible to mental exhaustion. Lack of support, healthy coping skills, and proper stress management can exacerbate the symptoms. Seeking guidance from a physician or therapist can provide valuable insights into managing mental fatigue, coping with stress, and finding supportive strategies.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental exhaustion or any related issues, there are resources available to provide support. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24/7, offering counseling services via calls, texts, or online chat. The NAMI Helpline also provides assistance Monday through Friday. Crisis Text Line offers 24-hour support via text, and the Central Kansas Mental Health Center crisis line is available around the clock.
Taking care of your mental well-being is crucial, especially in high-stress professions like farming and ranching. By understanding and addressing mental exhaustion, we can create a stronger and more resilient community of farmers and ranchers in Kansas.