Use positive self-talk
When we find ourselves in difficult or stressful situations, negative self-talk or chatter usually kicks in immediately. Mastering the fine art of transforming negative self-talk into positive self-talk can be one of the most powerful strategies we have for staying up in a down economy. The first step is to recognize the negative self-talk when it occurs. Five of the most common forms of negative self-talk are using four-letter words, “shoulds” and “oughts,” catastrophizing, putting yourself down and blaming others. If you hear any of these things going through your head, say: “STOP!” Then reframe the self-talk using more positive language. When you use positive self-talk, you allow yourself to accept the situation (you don’t have to like it!), nurture yourself, view the situation as a challenge, and act with courage. Positive self-talk might sound like this: “This is part of the challenge of farming…but I don’t have to worry. I’m a skilled person and I can rise to the challenge. If I do __________, I’ll be on my way to dealing with the situation.”
Practice the art of relaxation
When we are stressed out, our blood pressure rises, our heart rate accelerates, our metabolism speeds up, our muscles tense up, and our breathing becomes fast and shallow. In short, we are experiencing the “fight or flight” response: our bodies are gearing up to fight or to flee the situation. In addition, we often freeze: we become paralyzed or immobilized and simply can’t act. Practicing the relaxation response on a regular basis can help farm family members get past the fight, flight or freeze response. The relaxation response requires four things: a quiet environment, a comfortable position, a passive attitude and a mental device. In practice, it amounts to getting comfortable in a peaceful, quiet setting; closing your eyes; taking a few deep breaths; letting your muscles relax completely; and then visualizing yourself in a peaceful, relaxed setting for a brief period of time. This activity, if practiced daily, can help farm family members feel more relaxed and centered — better able to take action, rather than being immobilized by stressful situations. Try to find a time — early morning, lunchtime, before bed at night — when you can take five minutes to find the peace relaxation can bring.
Talk with family members
When we experience stress, we often “clam-up” and fail to talk with the most important people in our lives. It happens for many reasons: we may be embarrassed by the situation; we may feel we have failed as family “providers;” or it may be we simply don’t know what to say or how to say it. But chances are family members already know there are problems ... the tension tells them so. It’s better to talk openly with family members: it will help you get concerns/frustrations off your chest and you may be able to solicit their help in resolving issues. Your children can assist by pitching in to help with the work or by cutting back on family expenses (fewer or less expensive purchases). Adult brothers and sisters can assist by providing labor, offering an operating loan or extending the provisions of a farm purchase agreement. Parents can also help if they know the situation you are facing. So, summon your courage and share your situation in an honest way that is sensitive to the concerns family members may have. It could be one of the most helpful conversations you can have.