Thursday, August 18, 2022

Speak up for yourself, others

Consistent performers know they can’t solve every challenge by themselves. That’s why seeking advice to help deal with the pressures that farming brings is important.

Farmstrong ambassador Sam Whitelock comes from a farming background and plans to head back to farming when he hangs up his boots. He says rugby and farming are very similar in terms of the pressures people face during peak season. 

“Sport has taught me that everyone needs support when things get pressured, whether it’s catching up with mates at the local or chatting to neighbours over the fence or by phone. If you notice someone has dropped off the radar, give them a ring or send them a message of support,” he says.

“If you think someone is having a tough time, don’t be afraid to ask how they are. Even if they don’t want to talk, it’s good for them to know that you are there. 

“If they do want to talk, be open-minded, non-judgmental and listen. You don’t need to have the answers, just listening can really help someone who is feeling stressed.

“And if you’re leading a team, work some informal chats into the day. It could be a quick meeting at breakfast or after morning milking. Ask how people are getting on, if they need anything, share a joke or reflect on positives and challenges from the last few days. 

“A few minutes talking like that makes a big difference to people’s day.” 

Here’s what other farmers have shared with Farmstrong about the importance of talking it out when you’re under the pump. 

A banter over a beer

Bex Howell and her partner Steve are 50:50 sharemilkers in Pahiatua.  

“I often think that when you’re stressed you don’t think about the most obvious thing, and it only takes someone to say something before you think ‘oh, why didn’t I think of that?’” she says. 

“In farming, a problem shared is definitely a problem halved. 

“It’s tempting to just put your head down a bit more and work, but if you haven’t heard from a friend for a while, then give them a ring and have a yarn.”

Whitelock sums it up saying, “There will always be times when things get us down and it’s normal for this to happen. But what I’ve found is many of those around us have been through similar challenges and are more than willing to help. Asking for and receiving help will get you back on top of things sooner.”

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