How to Stay Safe on the Farm
Story by Bonita Hus.
The Agricultural Health and Safety Network (The Network) takes a holistic approach to mental and physical health, and the safety of producers. These interconnected themes form the basis of the Network's 20 year Farm Stress Initiative. This ongoing venture continues to provide tools for producers to use themselves and with their family and workers.
Farmers and ranchers work hard, especially during peak seasons. It is easy to think that the body is sufficiently exercised during the work day when your job is physical. Unfortunately, most farm work is ergonomically incorrect and can lead to repetitive strain injuries.
Physical fitness not only keeps your body fit and helps to prevent injury, but it fights stress in two ways. First, a physically fit body is better able to withstand the effects of stress, and second, exercise has a calming effect. Repetitions can even produce a meditative mental state. Exercise that raises your heart rate for at least 20 minutes releases endorphins that reduce depression and stress. Consider a brisk walk or bike ride at least three times a week.
Sleep can be a challenge during busy seasons, but planning your sleep periods can help us get the best sleep possible when we have the chance.
5 EASY SLEEP TIPS
• Practice a bedtime routine (It's not just for kids!)
• The darker the room, the better
• Eat lightly in the evening
• Avoid Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol
• Have a 20 minute nap during the day
A well balanced diet is rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains, dairy, and lean meat (or a meat alternative). Limit your intake of salt, sugar, saturated and trans fats. Fruits and vegetables should take up half your plate. Frozen fruits and vegetables are healthy alternatives when fresh produce is unavailable, cost ineffective, or out of season.
Many of us are so chronically dehydrated we don't even know it. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. Keep a water bottle with you during your work day.
A few simple changes can make a big difference, but not everything has to change immediately to make an improvement. A lifestyle that includes regular exercise, healthy meals and adequate sleep provides energy and endurance to handle what may come your way. However, the instant it becomes too much to bear, share it with a trusted friend or a professional. There is no advantage to bottling it up until it becomes critical or life threatening. Everyone goes through stressful times at some point and needs help.