Self-care means ‘the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.’

Are you taking care of yourself? Chances are, you could improve your personal self-care practice by leaps and bounds.

The CYFF is here to help you with that.

On this page you’ll find our series of Self Care Sunday articles to help you learn about self-care and how you can begin implementing it into your daily routine.

You’ll also find mental health resources, sorted by province and territory, so you have the details you need to get the help you need when you need it.

We all know that our job as farmers is a tough one. You don’t have to struggle every day or feel like you’re alone. Read, learn and grow as a farmer by taking care of yourself, inside and out. We’re here to show you how.

2020/21 CYFF Mental Health Initiative Sponsor:​

Forward Together

Tackling the tough things in life - like providing mental health resources to young farmers - is easier to do when you have a partner.

When you think about the hardest thing you’ve had to do in life – did you do it alone? Chances are the answer is no, and for good reason. Doing hard things is easier when you have help; daresay, when you have a team of help.

That’s exactly what RBC and the Canadian Young Farmers Forum (CYFF) have found in one another as they join together in partnership to fund and execute mental health initiatives for young farmers across Canada.
BY JESS CAMPBELL

The Most Important Thing
About Self-Care

It’s easy to think of self-care as self-indulgent. But when you really think about it, it’s anything but.

How many times have you put off going to bed early because you still had a handful of things left on your To Do list?

Or thought of calling that friend, but then got busy doing something else and let it slide?

Or vowed to carve out time to go to the gym and you just… don’t?

For a lot of people, self-care is often one of two things: vital to their sanity, or self-indulgent nonsense. It’s either something you do or something you don’t/can’t/won’t make time for. No matter where you sit on that spectrum, there’s one thing that is entirely true about self-care.

Self-care isn’t actually all about you.

When you actively take care of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, you are better able to help others do the same. You become an example to the people around you of how important it is to take care of yourself. And you inadvertently show them they can do it, too.

Isn’t that what we want for the people we care about? Whether that’s your parents, siblings, your own children, your spouse, friends, neighbours—it really doesn’t matter. When other people see you taking the time to care for yourself, it ignites a flame of possibility within them to do the same.

WHAT SELF-CARE LOOKS LIKE… OR DOESN’T

Many people understand the importance of self-care, but are perhaps hesitant to make it part of their daily routine because they’re not really sure what to do. The beautiful thing about that is, self-care can be anything you want it to be. Outside of basic survival mechanisms like eating regularly, drinking enough water and having a safe place to sleep, you get to choose what self-care looks like for you.

It can be activities like an actual bubble bath or sitting down with a cup of tea to read a book or the newspaper. But self-care can also look like setting personal boundaries with people, saying no when you feel pressure to say yes, or doing the personal work to discover what your purpose is in life.

Why do any of this? Because, as the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Almost everyone has been in a position where they’re entirely—or almost entirely—tapped out. In fact, you could argue that simply existing in a pandemic-stricken world has caused the vast majority of people to feel all kinds of exhausted. The question is, why continue to struggle? Life is not supposed to be so hard, and incorporating self-care that works for you and reflects your needs can make even the hardest situations that much more bearable. So what if someone else you know does X, Y or Z every week for their self-care. Decide what works for you, and then take steps to start doing that.

WIRED FOR INTERDEPENDENT CONNECTION

As humans, we are hardwired for connection with other people. If anything, the pandemic has made all of us painfully aware of that fact. But it’s also possible that the pandemic has taught us that any kind of connection is a form of self-care. It might seem strange to set up a Zoom call with friends who live three farms over, but if that’s what works to get you connected, then okay. Is it the same as meeting in person? Obviously not. But hearing the voice and the laugh of someone you care about and miss, not to mention seeing their smile on your screen of choice, is much better than not seeing or hearing from them.

Say your favourite people are already in your bubble. That’s wonderful and probably always feels amazing, right?

Wrong.

While it’s critical for us to foster our relationships with others, it’s almost just as critical to remain interdependent. That means you’re a fully functioning person who is also aware and accepting of your reliance on other people and things to survive and thrive. Basically, you need other people whether you want to admit it or not.

As much as we champion being independent and doing things for ourselves, on our own, always turning to the old I-can-do-this-myself-and-I-don’t-need-anyone reaction is actually considered a trauma response. It’s okay to trust others, to rely on other people to bring you ease and joy, and to help you with everyday things, and vice versa. In the same vein, it’s also okay to set boundaries and recognize when someone isn’t deserving of your time or attention. Both are important in fostering meaningful self-care.

SELF-CARE STRATEGIES

Aside from bubble baths and date nights with yourself, there are some more intrinsic strategies that might help you get started with self-care.

  • Help someone else. Whether it’s cleaning the bathrooms at your grandparent’s house or volunteering at your local food bank, helping others takes you out of your head and puts the focus on someone else’s needs for a period of time.
  • Pick a word. If you’re looking to set an intention for the next week, month or year, choosing a word that resonates with you can actually help give you the direction you’re looking for.
  • Set aside your best hours for yourself. Everyone has certain hours of the day where they feel and do their best, but those hours typically go to other people or things. Put them aside for yourself and see what happens, and how you feel.
  • Imagine the end of 2022. Where do you want to be in your life? What have you made happen over the last year? We often underestimate what we can accomplish in 365 days. Start by envisioning yourself a year from now, and see where your thoughts take you.

The one thing to remember as you consider upping your self-care game is that even though it seems like it’s all about you, it actually isn’t. Showing up for yourself sets an example for the people around you, the people you care about the most. It doesn’t have to be perfect, of course (spoiler alert: nothing is), but your self-care does have to work for you. The good news is, you get to decide what that is. Once you start, others will witness your decision to care for yourself and will decide for themselves that maybe this self-care thing isn’t so self-indulgent after all.

BC

CRISIS HOTLINES

Crisis Centre

1-800-784-2433

No area code needed: 310-6789

Youth in B.C. online chat

Greater Vancouver Area:
604-872-3311

Howe Sunshine & Sunshine Coast:
1-866-661-3311

HeretoHelp

1-800-661-2121

B.C. Psychological Association
– Find a Psychologist

1-800-730-0522

ON

CRISIS HOTLINES

Ontario Mental Health Helpline

1-866-531-2600

Good2Talk

1-866-925-5454

Mental Health Crisis Line

In Ottawa:
613-722-6914

In the larger Ottawa area:
1-866-996-0991

Connex Ontario

1-866-531-2600

Ontario Psychological Association – Find a Psychologist

416-961-5552

Ontario 211

1-877-330-3213

NB

CRISIS HOTLINES

Chimo Helpline

1-800-667-5005

College of Psychologists of N.B. – Find a Psychologist

506-382-1994

CRISIS HOTLINES

Northwest Territories Help Line

1-800-661-0844

NU

CRISIS HOTLINES

Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line

1-800-265-3333