How to develop healthy thinking skills, so you’re better-equipped for successful farming.
The mind needs to be looked after and nourished, just as the body needs a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. Being a healthy thinker doesn’t mean burying your head in the sand when a big issue arises. It means developing the habit of making the best of any situation you are in and keeping things in perspective.
The challenge is to learn to recognise your negative thought patterns and consciously change them. Negative thoughts trigger unhealthy emotions and most unhealthy emotions come from thoughts that aren’t true. So the more you practice changing your thoughts, the better you will feel.
Here’s a three-step strategy for thinking and behaving in a more positive way. Try to use it every day, until healthy thinking becomes a new habit.
Catch it, check it, change it
Catch it. When you find yourself feeling anxious and depressed, stop and examine your thoughts. What are you thinking? Your pattern of thinking is usually so automatic that you don’t notice it, or the effect it has on your moods and feelings.
Check it. Evaluate the negative thought rationally. Is it really true? Is it as bad as you think? It seldom is. Would others interpret it the same way? Is the drought you are experiencing an absolute disaster or a temporary setback? Will the problem really matter in six months’ to a years’ time?
Change it. Now challenge your own faulty thinking. Substitute more realistic thoughts for your automatic ones. Consciously change your thought and select a more rational response.
Other strategies that help
Learn to laugh: Laughing at life makes you feel less stressed. Farmers have a great sense of humour and whatever is happening to you on the farm will have happened to plenty of others. Humour is the best of medicines. Today’s disaster is tomorrow’s ripping yarn.
Spend time with positive people: Surround yourself with positive people. Negative people will increase your stress levels and make you doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways. Positive people will inspire you to see the world in a positive light.
Exercise regularly: Regular exercise has many brain benefits. It increases the production of neurochemicals that promote the repair of brain cells, it improves memory and boosts decision-making skills. If you exercise regularly, your mind will function better. You will have a longer attention span and you’ll be better equipped to plan well and multi-task.
Movember Radio offers some useful advice
“Movember Radio” aims to lift the lid on society’s often damaging ideals about masculinity and challenge listeners to re-think what it really means to be a man. The podcast was launched, following International Men’s Health Week, and will run all year round with weekly episodes featuring new one-on-one interviews with inspiring men from around the globe.
For New Zealand’s first podcast we have All Black captain, Richie McCaw. He recently shared with Movember Radio how seemingly bulletproof men aren’t immune to the physical and mental struggles life throws everyone’s way.
Tune in here: https://nz.movember.com/mo-community/radio
The five-point path to greater happiness
For the longer term, here are five recommended ways to psychological wellbeing and happiness. Studies show that building these habits into your daily routine will give you a great sense of wellbeing. Try to do each of these at least once a day.
1. Give your time to others. Share your advice and experience. There’s good evidence that getting involved in charitable activities, particularly giving time, makes people happier.
2. Connect by talking and listening to others. Nurture your friendships. Maintaining friendships takes time and effort, but the rewards are huge.
3. Take notice. Enjoy the simple things of life. Learn to be content in the moment. Remember that as a farmer, you enjoy the ‘best office in the world’.
4. Be active. Be as active as you can and watch your mood change.
5. Keep learning. Try new things to keep your brain active – it is the most amazing machine ever created!
Healthy Thinking is a registered trademark of the Healthy Thinking Institute.