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How is your health?

23 June 2021
Type Media Article

By Aoife Forde, B&T Drystock Adviser, Teagasc Galway/Clare

A busy spring on farms with cows calving and ewes lambing has rolled by and has now made way for the lively summer months with silage to be cut and hay to be turned. Farmers are busy people and are often regarded as being “as tough as nails” but it is important that farmers remember to look after their own health and wellbeing also. Farmers are fantastic at looking after their animals, if there is an issue with an animal on farm, that animal will be looked after with the highest level of care. However, you need to ask yourself do you give this level of care and attention to yourself?

Physical Wellbeing:

According to the HAS, 50% of farmers with ill health suffer with chronic back pain while other causes of poor health can be contributed to lung problems, infections and noise damage.

Simple things can be done to help protect your physical wellbeing such as

  • Ensure farmyards are kept tidy with adequate lighting to avoid trips and slips.
  • Cover cuts with waterproof dressings to try and avoid infection.
  • Wear sun-cream in hot weather to protect your skin.
  • Use correct manual handling techniques when lifting items.
  • Wear ear defenders when working with loud equipment such as chainsaws.

Farmers are renowned for their hearty appetite and often would claim to have an awful sweet tooth! However, eating too much of the wrong food could lead to issues such as becoming overweight or obese. This can then lead to a number of health problems including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and can even lead to some cancers. It is important that you keep an eye on your own diet and fuel your body with the right foods.

Eating a well-balanced diet can seriously improve your health by:

  • Providing you with the right fuel to work effectively.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Lowering your blood cholesterol.
  • Preventing high blood pressure.
  • Improving your energy levels. A healthy diet can help lower your risk of getting heart disease (which is the single biggest killer), diabetes and cancer.

If you are concerned about any aspect of your health you should book a visit with your GP for professional advice.

Mental Wellbeing:

Staying mentally well is just as important as staying physically well. Your mind, just like your body can become unwell from time to time so it is very important that farmers look after their own mental health.

Farming can be a stressful profession. Signals of stress can include mood swings, not being able to concentrate, feeling tense, not sleeping properly or being forgetful.

Ways which can help to relieve stress include

  • Taking the time to relax and do something you enjoy
  • Prioritising tasks by reviewing how you organise your time
  • Be assertive – learn how to say no!

At times farming can be isolating especially in the past year and a half as COVID 19 has effected all our lives.  It has been much harder to meet people, to socialise and have the chat with family, friends and neighbours. Humans are social beings and talking to each other is the natural thing to do.

However, often times, men in particular, are afraid to show their emotions or to ask for help when it is needed. It is very important that you do reach out to someone you trust. It takes a huge amount of courage to sit down with a friend and be really honest about how you are feeling. It may be the case that the person you are talking to has had a similar experience or view and this could be really helpful.

If you are feeling stressed overwhelmed or feel down and out in yourself, please reach out to someone you trust be it a family member, friend, farm advisor, GP or other supports such as the Samaritans, AWARE or Pieta House.

A visit to your GP for your NCT:

Don’t put off a visit to your GP. If you have an ache or pain, are feeling like you need to talk, visit your GP. Your GP is a trained professional who is there to help you in any way they can. A GP will be able to discuss any issues you may have. If you had an animal who wasn’t right you wouldn’t wait to call the vet so don’t wait until you are feeling really unwell! Even if you are feeling fine, a visit to your GP for a regular health check is well worth your while!

For more information check out the links below.