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Gaining Wellness around Christmas Time

The year gone by has been like no other in terms of the challenge of keeping COVID-19 at bay. The holiday period at Christmas time presents a time to relax and gain ‘Wellness’ so ‘batteries can be recharged’ for the year ahead. John McNAmara Health & Safety Specialist has Wellness pointers for all

This article gives some pointers related to Wellness within COVID-19 guidelines.

Keeping In Touch.

We are all social beings and keeping in touch with family, friend and neighbours is crucial for Wellness particularly mental wellness.  This year family members may not be able to get home for Christmas. Our mobile phones and related   technologies has become one of the most important tools to help us stay connected. It is important that we take the time and use our phones to stay in touch with others.  The Teagasc video ‘Farming, COVID-19 and your Mental Health’ focusses on minding your mental health at this time of social distancing due to COVID-19.



Enjoying good food is synonymous with the holiday period.  We live in a period of time   when good food is both readily available.  However, it is far easier to avoid weigh gain than to lose weight so moderation is necessary.  This is particularly the case with snacking and consuming confectionary, which are high in sugars.

Diabetes is rising in the Irish population including among farmers. You can carry out a free   Diabetes screening to determine your risk level at the Diabetes Ireland Web site at https://www.diabetes.ie/living-with-diabetes/are-you-at-risk-of-type-2-diabetes/     


Farmers get lots of exercise around the farm with several studies indicating them getting in excess of the recommended 10,000 steps per day.  However, over the winter period exercise levels are likely to drop off. In addition, cardiovascular fitness requires short bursts (10 minutes plus) of moderate or high intensity exercise which means getting ones  heart rate up and perspiring somewhat. .  As days begin to lengthen, make a conscious effort to get suitable exercise every day.  

Farmer get most of their exercise from movement around the farm. Consider taking exercise regularly away from the farm such as a brisk walk or cycle or maybe swimming.

There are superior Wellness benefits to be gained from exercising in Nature such as forests or scenic beauty spots.   In recent years, Ireland has greatly increased its provision of nature trails, green and blue-ways. Why not use these resources over the festive season with family and friends.


Health Check

A major Irish study published in June 2020 revealed that 74% of male farmers have four or more, risk factors for cardiovascular disease. This means they are three times more likely to have an acute cardiac event (stroke or heart attack) compared to those with fewer risk factors. Seventy five percent of all farmers participating in the study were advised to visit their GP to get further support and advice.  In the longer term, 60-70% of factors influencing health are under a person’s own control.   Plan a health check for the New Year as part of a plan to maintain your health.

Managing Work Time in spring

Managing farm work time is vitally important for quality of life and wellness as it allows time for leisure and rest. Long work hours and poor or unsafe working conditions can lead to both stress and injury.  When the Christmas period is nearing its end, it will be time to consider ways to cut the spring workload.   Think back on last year and reflect on any changes   you could make to cut workload and make your farming life easier.  


The challenge of containing COVID-19 spread continues and is likely to be present until an effective vaccine is rolled out. A further wave of CoVID-19 is emerging that could accelerate into in the New Year.  In these circumstances, it is vital for everyone to follow current public health guidelines. These include Social Distancing; frequent Hand Washing; Mask Wearing and covering ones nose if sneezing.  Further information on all aspects of COVID-19 is able at https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/

Further Information

The Irish Farmer Health Booklet ‘Fit for Farming’ is downloadable from the Web and gives wide-ranging advice on all health issues including diet, alcohol consumption, exercise and Wellness. 

Authors: John McNamara/ Francis Bligh, Teagasc Health and Safety Specialists.