According to Dr. Nikki Gerrard’s research on farm stress, our ability to bounce back from stress is called “resiliency.” How are you doing?
I would encourage readers to seek out an emotional support group: folks who are willing to listen, connect with you on a regular basis, and offer you unconditional love and support. Who keeps your spirits buoyant and above the waterline? Do you have just 3 close friends beyond your family circle?
7 Ways to Connect & Develop Your Stress Resiliency
Tea and Conversation
Prairies North magazine had a delightful article about the “Delisle Pickle,” a special gathering spot in Delisle Saskatchewan where tea and visiting are on the main menu.
In Boissevain, we now have the “Sawmill Tea and Coffee Company” which I tell folks is our version of “Starbucks.” The effect on the community has been amazing. You can drop in for lunch, just grab a fancy coffee or tea, and visit with other folks who are hanging out. The teens play pool and eat gelato, the seniors sip drinks by the window, and many people enjoy the leather chairs and couches, having animated conversations until 11 at night!
Phone and Skype
Don’t underestimate the power of connection via the phone, and now Skype. If you have high-speed internet, connections on Skype also allow you to have a video of the person you are talking to. If the video line is poor, you can also chat by texting in the chat box. I have a friend in New Zealand who is also a farm coach, and we really appreciate the time on Skype to encourage each other.
Stock up on cards, stamps, and mail a letter to your friend, even if she lives in the same town. Remember how much fun it is to open a card instead of the pile of bills facing you. Financial strain can be brutal.
Perhaps it is time to join a book club and get lost in a book, and then share your ideas with other women. Bible studies are another way to share the power of the written word and then spend time praying for each other. If you are in need of prayer, it is a wonderful thing to have close friends that you can ask to pray for you.
It’s also great to praise God for the good things in your life, and not just come to conversations with the Creator about all your woes, which of course He knows about.
Movies and Music
Pop the popcorn with girlfriends (or your willing hubby) and watch a really funny chick flick. The first time I watched Mamma Mia I was so tired from the harvest, I really had a tearful good laugh, and it felt great. The “Dancing Queen” songs brought back many high school memories of fun, and I think it was a good thing to be reminded to seek out fun. Dorothy Whetter, formerly of Dand, created a delightful piano CD in her eighties, and I use her music to life my spirits when I am organizing .
Sharing music with friends is a great way to feel more buoyant in tough times.
If movies and music aren’t your thing, maybe you just need to share the fun of creating something. Our town has a “Guilty Quilters” club, who are guilty of not feeding husbands when they are overtaken by the desire to quilt together. Is it time to quilt, scrapbook, crop photos or find your watercolors again?
Our brains are weary from worry, and we need to use a different set of neurons to create things and find some relief. When I traveled to BC, I did two watercolor postcards of the amazing fall colors and a mountain landscape. It felt good to celebrate the arrival of a printer’s press at my friend’s art studio and help her associates make rags for art projects. When was the last time you fed your creative side?
Men: Remember How to Have Fun
Men are at risk for depression due to sustained stress and need to find ways to keep above the waterline, too. Oprah’s viewer “Larry” had a man cave in his garage where he watched Oprah in the privacy of his garage! We had hunters here from Wisconsin who just wanted to sit in the dark and wait for geese and then tell stories at supper. Many farmers I coach relay to me that they have forgotten how to have fun. The work on the farm is always going to be there, but the relationships may fade away if we don’t intentionally connect on a regular basis.
Relationships Are the Key to Resiliency
The most important things in life are not things. We all want to love and be loved. We all need respect and connection. The families that bounce back from the blasts of unfortunate weather and financial stresses are the ones that see hope in communication, connection, and celebration of community.
Don’t wallow in your worries. Connect to someone who cares about you. If you are the strong one at the moment, offer a listening ear, and a praying heart. Offer hope to those who feel they are sinking and remember that “hope deferred makes a heart sick.” Choose to connect to your emotional support group and develop your resiliency.