4 Ways to Keep Your Chin Up Despite 2020

( Farm Journal )

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Trade war. Ethanol headaches. Daunting production and price outlooks. 2020 has been overwhelming for farmers so many reasons – and that’s not even considering the rug that really got pulled from under us: the pandemic. 

“That wasn't on anybody's bingo card,” John Phipps says during Farm Journal Field Days. “It has forced us to rethink our futures. And that process has not lifted too many spirits. These influences on our attitudes and outlooks are real, continuing and confounding.”

COVID-19 has interrupted our support system. Much of our attitude about life and the future is grounded in our interactions with other humans, Phipps explains. 

“Mostly we like to talk about other people. Scientists theorize language arose from the need to gossip,” he says.

People take clues about what to worry about, and what to ignore, from the very people they like to spend time with every day. 

“Even those predictable conversations like griping about the weather, help our brains to manage stress by verifying our concerns are not all in our own mind,” Phipps says.

Here are a few ways to fight discouragement during the pandemic.

1. Make your phone calls more effective. 
Find someone to talk to about the mundane things of your day. Use FaceTime or its equivalent. Pushing the video link for phone calls adds another helpful dimension to communication. 

2. Fix something. 
Consider tackling your job of doom – that project you have been postponing and dreading the longest. Making even small things better, reinforces your sense of control over your circumstances, he says.

3. Measure stuff.
You can't manage it if you don't measure it. 2020 has shown us we can do a better job of measuring important things on our farm and about ourselves, Phipps says.

4. Lose the sarcasm.
Sarcasm is in great surplus on social media today. This constant stream of micro-humiliation has not only dulled our humor, but it has made us more sensitive, he adds. The loss of facial signals due to masks doesn’t help. 

John Phipps delves into this topic more during “John's World: Be Realistic, Even Pessimistic, Without Being Discouraged” at Farm Journal Field Days. Log on to watch the replay. After registering, click the Pavilions link, then “Pavilions A-F, then Business & Grain Marketing Pavilion, to find the session from Aug. 26.

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