Farmstrong – taking time to appreciate the best office in the world

Gerard Vaughan, Farmstrong Project Manager shares what farmers have told him about how appreciating small things can make a big difference. Take it away Gerard.

Make it a habit to appreciate the small things

When we get busy, our minds get cluttered with all kinds of things. In farming there is always a list as long as your arm of things to do and worry about, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. So when you’re busy you could think it unproductive to make time each day to stop and appreciate the small things. However, farmers who have developed a habit of doing this have told me that it makes them calmer and more productive.

Taking notice

When talking to Rex Kane, a south island dairy farmer, while he was out shifting some fences, he told me he had learnt to just stop and notice the things happening around him. To just appreciate where he is—to be in the moment. We both stopped, then he said, listen to that—the sound of a bell bird.

Tony Anderson a sheep and beef farmer on the Chatham Islands, also shared a similar habit. Even though the Chathams can be a harsh environment, he’d learnt to notice and enjoy the beauty and tranquillity. He raised his hand and said, “If you stop talking for a moment there’s no human noise”.

Journal key moments

Wendy Coup a King Country sheep and beef farmer, makes a habit of jotting down three good moments that she’s had every day in a journal. She said it could be something as simple as stopping the bike and having a moment with her dogs. Wendy said that when you’re farming it’s easy to get bogged down in just doing the next task, but journaling helps remind her that she works in an amazing environment and that there is a lot of joy in farming life.

Connect with nature

Paying attention to the world around you by connecting with nature as these farmers are doing—even for a few moments—can help you to feel calm and relaxed. That is why ‘taking notice’ and remembering the simple things that give you joy, is one of the five ways to wellbeing.

As well as helping you feel calm, it also gives you insights into how you’re feeling. When things are real busy and not going according to plan, we can get carried along by emotions like frustration and anger. Stopping to take notice gives us a moment to engage differently with what we’re doing, and as a result, can help us change how we’re feeling.

Gaining a better perspective

Another benefit of making it a habit, is that over time it will give you perspective on things. As Sam Whitelock says, the best way to work out what’s going wrong with a lineout, is to walk back 20 metres from it and just observe what’s going on. Being in the thick of things all the time can mean that we can’t see what’s really going on and other ways of achieving something.

Learning this skill is like making a small and regular investment in our wellbeing that we need to draw on, when dealing with daily pressures. Even though we have more opportunities and technology than previous generations, we’re also living a much faster-paced life with more uncertainty, complexity and for some of us, less family and neighbourly resources to draw on to help get us through.

Appreciate the small things

That’s why taking time to stop and just breathe and take in what is going on around you, is so important. Finding time each day to appreciate the small things means we are better able to handle life’s ups and downs.

Thanks Gerard. For more great tips on wellbeing and how you can be looking after yourself, have a further look around Farmstrong. Make sure you take the wellbeing checklist too, to find out where your wellbeing is at.


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