Red Robin our producer and industry insider on the importance of looking after our mental wellbeing, as well as our physical health
We are used to having physical first aiders and going on courses, but a fortnight ago I went on a mental health first aid course. Two full days which were intense and draining at times, but unbelievably worthwhile.
It had been organised by a Norfolk charity called You Are Not Alone (YANA), which is helping those in farming who are affected by stress and depression (www.yanahelp.org). They are there to help farmers and their families in their darkest hour.
Our mental health first aid course covered how to listen and talk to someone who is having a mental health issue and how to signpost them to get help.
The course leader also talked at length about wellbeing and, for me, this was the most important take- home message.
It is all too easy to get ourselves bogged down in mundane everyday tasks and to not take time to look after ourselves. I would like everyone reading this to focus on wellbeing in their families and businesses and to make a point of talking about how people are feeling.
We often ask: “How are you?” But it has become a pleasantry, rather than a serious question.
We must take time to really ask people how they are and be prepared that sometimes the answer won’t be: “I’m fine, thanks”. Often, all it takes to lighten someone’s mood is to allow them the freedom to just unload everything that is bothering them – to just have a rant.
The charity Mind (www.mind.org. uk) talks about five ways to wellbeing. They are, very briefly:
CONNECT – talking, feeling valued and being close to other people.
BE ACTIVE – regular physical exercise is associated with a lower rate of depression. Walking the dog, for many of us, is a great lifter of mood.
TAKE NOTICE – taking the time
to enjoy the moment and the environment around you. I am really enjoying the blue skies and lighter evenings that we start to see at this time of year.
LEARN – continued learning enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction. It doesn’t have to be difficult or time- consuming, but it does give you something to talk about. I read books when I can and like to learn about new things.
GIVE – Individuals who value helping others are more likely to consider themselves to be happy.
I know farmers are not the first in the queue to talk about their feelings and you may consider all this to be ‘hippy clap-trap’, but it really is important.
There is more pressure on the younger generations than ever before and these are skills that give people the ability to manage that pressure.
So, please, do ask someone how they are, and mean it. Try to do these five things tomorrow and see if it lifts your mood and that of someone else.