Farm­ers fight sea­sonal blues

Help at hand by con­tact­ing Ru­ral Sup­port Trust

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

With the re­cent atro­cious weather and other fac­tors chal­leng­ing farm­ers and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, DairyNZ con­sult­ing of­fi­cer for the South Waikato Mur­ray Holt is find­ing some Waikato farm­ers are strug­gling to stay pos­i­tive.

‘‘ A dose of the win­ter blues seems pretty com­mon out there at the moment. The stress of calv­ing is over but quite a few farm­ers are feel­ing pretty down and seem to be look­ing at the long sea­son ahead with­out a lot of en­thu­si­asm.

‘‘ Some of the farm­ers I and other con­sult­ing of­fi­cers in the wider Waikato re­gion have been talk­ing to are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing higher-than-usual lev­els of ir­ri­tabil­ity, tired­ness, and negativity. They don’t tend to talk about it un­less prompted – farm­ers are a staunch lot and when things get dif­fi­cult will of­ten tough it out rather than open up.’’

Hamil­ton-based health pro­fes­sional John Grant, who has worked with peo­ple suf­fer­ing from stress and mood dis­or­ders, said win­ter blues or Sea­sonal Af­fec­tive Dis­or­der (SAD) is a recog­nised type of de­pres­sion im­pact­ing over win­ter months and has been as­so­ci­ated with re­duced hours of sun­shine and less in­tense light.

Ir­ri­tabil­ity, fa­tigue, overly neg­a­tive at­ti­tudes, loss of plea­sure, sat­is­fac­tion and in­ter­est in ac­tiv­i­ties usu­ally en­joyed are com­mon symp­toms. Sleep dis­tur­bance (usu­ally wak­ing up af­ter four or five hours’ sleep) is an­other.

‘‘For many peo­ple things come right by them­selves but if symp­toms per­sist for more than two weeks this de­pres­sion needs to be ad­dressed. In this sit­u­a­tion, it’s im­por­tant that peo­ple seek pro­fes­sional help. Have a chat with your doc­tor – they’ll be able to let you know what op­tions are avail­able,’’ Mr Grant said.

‘‘Peo­ple who find them­selves in this po­si­tion need to re­alise this is not a moral or per­sonal fail­ing. We all break at some point if we are stressed for too long or life is just too hard. There is no shame in putting your hand up and ask­ing for help.’’So what can you do if a fam­ily mem­ber, friend or col­league is feel­ing down in the dumps?

Keep com­mu­ni­ca­tion lines open – if you know some­one is strug­gling, keep in reg­u­lar con­tact, en­cour­age them to talk if they feel com­fort­able to and let them get it off their chest. In par­tic­u­lar, lis­ten for the feel­ings.

En­cour­age them to take time out off the farm, do things they en­joy and spend time with fam­ily and friends – try to get the fun and laugh­ter back into life.

Re­frain from telling them to ‘‘ snap out of it’’ ( be­cause they al­most cer­tainly can’t, and will feel worse from your com­ments).

Help min­imise causes of stress; in­stead solve prob­lems and find so­lu­tions to con­flict.

En­cour­age them to look af­ter their phys­i­cal health – eat­ing well, mak­ing time for ex­er­cise and get­ting enough sleep.

Most im­por­tantly though, if things are not im­prov­ing, they need to seek ad­vice from their GP or health pro­fes­sional.

Mr Holt said the Ru­ral Sup­port Trust is a use­ful re­source which is free and con­fi­den­tial.

‘‘The Trust can sup­port dur­ing per­sonal, en­vi­ron­men­tal or fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties and can help find op­tions to man­age these types of ru­ral chal­lenges. Of­ten all that’s needed is some­one to talk to, but they can also help fa­cil­i­tate with re­fer­rals to ap­pro­pri­ate pro­fes­sional help, such as fi­nan­cial and farm man­age­ment, men­tor­ing and coun­selling.’’

The Ru­ral Sup­port Trust can be con­tacted on 0800 787 254 or go to www.ru­ral-sup­port.org.nz.

Photo: FAIR­FAX FILE

WET WOR­RIES: DairyNZ is concerned re­cent rain might be get­ting farm­ers down.

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