New resource gets the thumbs up

Semi-retired Southland dairy farmer Dennis Farrelly reckons Farmstrong’s new resource to help manage stress should be pinned to every farmer’s fridge or wall.

The colourful, two-page Under the Pump resource  is fronted by Farmstrong ambassador and rugby legend Sam Whitelock and offers practical tips and advice on how to deal with stress. It also talks about burnout and how to handle the ups and downs of farming. The resource includes four checklists to help farmers assess whether they have any signs or symptoms of unhealthy stress. The checklists cover, ‘Your body’, ‘Your mind’, Your emotions’ and ‘Your actions and behaviour’ and where to get help.

“The resource is really easy to read, it’s short, simple and has checklists to help you see where you’re at with your stress levels,” Dennis says. “Farmers don’t have a lot of time to read pages and pages of stuff so the fact it’s short and to the point is great,” the 66-year-old says. “You can put it on the fridge or tack it onto your wall so you can refer to it. It really helps get you thinking. I think it should be something that every farmer refers to.”

Number one asset on farm

Dennis, who has six adult children, particularly likes the section Sam’s top tips on managing stress. “The tip about treating yourself as the number one asset on the farm is really important. It’s often the thing, with men particularly, if you’re getting stressed it’s hard to be humble enough to ask for help but sharing things with others is good,” Dennis says.

He thinks farmers are getting better at asking for help due to more awareness around wellbeing. “It can be really hard though, especially if you work on your own because you don’t have people to share things with, but I think people are getting better at talking about how they are doing.” Dennis says when he was farming full time, he made sure he got off the farm and had family time. “We were really lucky because we had a crib that we could get away to and go hunting and have a break from the farm.”

The big picture

His years of experience on the farm taught him the importance of seeing the big picture. “Sometimes you have to stand back and reflect on the situation. If things aren’t going to plan, step back and take a look at the big picture. Things might be shit today but it can come right.” He says if you can delegate jobs out, particularly during busy periods, it also helps. “Other people might do things differently but it’s a help.”

Dennis says his Christian faith also helped him through tough times. “It’s not everybody’s cup of tea but it’s been a big help for me. It’s my backbone.”

He says the newer generation of farmers are taking wellbeing more seriously, which is great. “In the past, farmers’ wellbeing wasn’t a focal point but things are changing and resources like Under the Pump really help.”


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