Just breathe
SUNDAY, JULY 14, 2019

FOMO is a NO NO (...or is it?)

Contrary to popular opinion, the fear of missing out can be both harmful and helpful.

by Jess Campbell

Everybody has experienced FOMO, the fear of missing out, at some point in their lives. If you haven’t, here we are, in the middle of summer and the chance of developing FOMO is pretty high. The weather is (usually, depending on where you are in the country) pretty nice and there are bound to be people in your life who are doing things you’re not doing but wish you were, such as travelling, socializing (IRL!), learning something new or just generally having time to do what they want, when they want.

Farmers simply don’t always have that kind of time. There’s certainly no such thing as a long weekend. And the idea of taking an extended vacation away from the farm can seem nearly impossible. Not to mention, anxiety-inducing.

Of course, social media has heightened FOMO. We already know that scrolling through your social feeds and double-tapping on that “perfect” canoeing-at-sunset photo can make you feel bad and have a detrimental effect on your mental health. 

So, the straightforward thing to do would be to avoid all instances that may cause FOMO – right? Stay home, keep to yourself and never go anywhere.

Sounds great.

FOMO A GOGO?

There are some who say that the fear of missing out can actually motivate you to achieve the dreams and goals you want for yourself. You see others achieving similar things and instead of feeling down about it, you feel driven to succeed. 

The trick here, however, is knowing whether what you’re FOMO-ing about is something you actually want

Do you care about canoeing at sunset? 

Or learning to BBQ steak to perfection?

Or buying another 100 acres?

It’s a question of whether achieving those things will better your life in the moment or better your life overall.

If you feel it’s your mission in life to learn more about how to BBQ beef so it literally falls off the bone – go learn that. 

If you really want to take your farm business to the next level by pitching a purchase plan to your neighbour who might want to sell in the next five years – go do that. 

If you are certain your life will be incomplete unless you test your photography skills in a canoe in the middle of a lake at sunset – go for it. Whatever blows your hair back!

SLOW YOUR FOMO.

When you’re being driven by wanting to do something or say something or be something to keep up with the proverbial Jones’, this is where we run into issues. FOMO assumes (especially on social media) that what you’re seeing is the entire scenario – but that’s hardly ever the case.

Did your Twitter friend just buy another parcel of land to expand their farm? Awesome! What you don’t know is that their cash flow is barely flowing and things are going to be tight for a long time. 

Did your neighbour return from a two-week vacation to Europe, away from their farm? Wonderful! What you don’t know is that they needed to get away because they were on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

If you find yourself lusting after what somebody else appears to have, try taking a deep breath and looking around at your current situation. You have the power to control your own life and it’s a safe bet that there are awesome things happening which you’re choosing to stay blind to (even the little things, like a crock-pot supper ready and waiting for you after chores or a calm, cool summer night sky bursting with stars).

What FOMO comes down to is understanding why you feel like you’re missing out and taking the steps to alleviate that feeling. FOMO can help you follow your dream – but it can also help you realize that perhaps, all things considered, you’re already living it.

SUNDAY, JUNE 30, 2019

You need more stress.

We all know what stress is. But do you ever need more of it? The answer may surprise you….

by Jess Campbell

Farmers are very familiar with stress.
What it is.
What it feels like.
Why it happens.

We are, admittedly, a little less familiar with how to manage it effectively so it stays, well, manageable.

Would you believe it if you read that the answer to managing stress might be more stress?

Don’t click away just yet.

GOOD VS. BAD

Distress is the stress farmers can relate to. By definition, it’s the human response to any change that is perceived as a challenge or a threat. No matter what commodity you’re farming or type of livestock you’re caring for, distress happens daily; it’s part of the job.

A bearing on the tractor breaks off.
Your cattle roll through a fence into a neighbour’s just-planted field.
Your entire family comes down with the same mystery illness that puts a rotating door on the bathroom.
That’s distress.

Eustress, on the other hand, is our body’s natural response to something exciting or anticipatory.

Yes, your beloved old pick-up may’ve died for good but shopping for a new one is pretty fun.
Your partner has gone into labour with your first born and your drive to the hospital is… atypically rapid.
You’ve finally booked an overnight stay at a cottage with some fellow farm friends.
All of these scenarios will likely cause you to feel some level of eustress, or “good” stress. You typically feel lighter, even happier; excited about what’s happening or what’s to come. Focusing comes easier so you’re able to accomplish a task at hand. Overall, eustress generally makes you feel pretty good.

A BALANCING ACT

Eustress invigorates you while distress can deplete you to the point of exhaustion.

So, how do you avoid arriving at the exhaustion stage?

Assuming you’re not already perpetually exhausted, try adding in some eustress so your day isn’t completely filled with distress.

If you’re unsure of what that might look like, consider this: eustress, by definition, has a beneficial effect on your health, motivation, performance and well-being.

What could you implement into your day that benefits you?

Going to bed earlier, even if it’s by 10 or 15 minutes.
Creating a playlist of your all-time favourite (i.e. nostalgic, face-splitting smile inducing) songs and listening while you work.
Shutting the tractor off, getting out of the cab and standing outside so you can breathe in five deep breaths of fresh air.
Calling a friend or your partner just to hear their voice. And your own.

You see, balancing the types of stress in your life doesn’t have to be hard. The key is to do what works and feels good for you. If you’re a night owl and find that you’re super-productive after the sun goes down, it might not actually benefit you to go to bed early (shocking, but not wrong).

The point is –

As a farmer, you already know all about what doesn’t feel good.

So, find what feels good and do more of it, even if it’s just a little more.

SUNDAY, JUNE 16, 2019

Happy Father's Day?

The inaugural Self Care Sunday post acknowledges those who may not be in a particularly celebratory mindset today.

by Jess Campbell

In our busy lives on the farm, it can be easy to genuinely forget about days like Father’s Day.

Just in case you have forgotten – today is Father’s Day.

But maybe you didn’t forget.

Maybe Father’s Day is not a great day for you so you accidentally-on-purpose forgot.

If that’s you, that’s okay.

When these kinds of days are celebrated – they’re not holidays but not unspecial days – it’s important to remember that these not unspecial days can be really, really hard on a lot of people.

Maybe your father isn’t in your life because you’ve chosen for him not to be for the sake of your own wellbeing.

Maybe your father isn’t in your life because he passed away last year. Or 20 years ago.

Maybe you have a strained relationship with your dad and it’s difficult to pretend to celebrate something (aka a greeting-card worthy relationship) that you don’t have.

Maybe, for whatever reason, you never had the chance to get to know your father.

When you have a great father and you have great kids, Father’s Day is awesome and easy to celebrate, as it should be. But it can also be not awesome.

Not awesome because you and your wife have been trying to have a baby for three years and still have an empty nursery.

Not awesome because your child passed away last year. Or 20 years ago.

Not awesome because you have a strained relationship with your child and you’d rather not try to celebrate something that doesn’t feel worthy of celebrating.

Not awesome because, for whatever reason, you never had the chance to get to know your child.

So, on this day of fatherly celebration – what do you do if the party doesn’t include you?

First and foremost, know that however you feel about this day is okay. If you feel awesome or not awesome or something in between or outside of that spectrum – It. Is. Okay.

If you find yourself surrounded by Happy Father’s Day messages on social media – maybe log off of social media for awhile. Contrary to popular opinion, the world will continue to turn if one logs off Twitter.

If logging off isn’t your thing then get social. Shoot a text to someone you care about. Better yet, make a phone call or even make plans to meet in real life! The point is to let that person know how you’re feeling, no matter what medium you decide to use.

Sometimes, the best thing to do, though, also happens to be the hardest thing.

If you’re a child who wants to honour their father… or a father who wants to honour their child… figure out a way to do that.

Give them some time and space in your thoughts today. Don’t censor your feelings as those thoughts fill your mind. Whatever comes – just let it come. Even if it’s just for a minute or two. A minute or two is enough, especially if it hurts.

If today is a day to celebrate then absolutely celebrate it.

If it’s not – that’s okay, too.