Men’s Health Week, June 13-19, is part of a global health awareness campaign, which focuses on health issues men face, and raises awareness of steps men can take to help address these.
It’s common for mental and physical health to be viewed as a taboo subject among rural men in New Zealand. With this in mind, rural men are statistically more at risk of facing both physical and mental health problems than their non-rural male counterparts.
So with the help of our partners at Farmstrong, we’ve compiled a list of some key tips and resources that could help you or a loved one get on top of their health.
Make wellbeing a priority
Men’s Health Week is a good chance to get on top of your wellbeing. Your wellbeing is undoubtedly as important as any other aspect of your farming business.
If your wellbeing isn’t in-check, it can have negative impacts on both your farming business as well as your personal life at home.
Know your numbers
Often farmers and growers are great at knowing their numbers around pasture, machinery and stock, but not so good at knowing their own vital statistics.
Get regular checkups and tests to ensure your numbers – blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol and risk of diabetes are what they should be.
Check your skin
Working outside in the sun, especially in NZ can be unforgiving. Getting your skin checked regularly and seeing your doctor immediately if you notice a new lesion, mole or freckle can be the difference between a minor problem and life-threatening skin cancer.
This is especially important if you’re fair skinned, spend a lot of time outdoors or have a family history of skin cancer.
Invest in your wellbeing
Any farmer or grower reading this will be familiar with the sorts of things that make a dent in their wellbeing: having too much to do, lack of sleep, not getting enough time off, and the pressure of things beyond their control like adverse weather and prices.
If you invest in your wellbeing, the negative impact of these everyday problems can be lessened, or even prevented completely. Adopting healthy habits – like getting off-farm, keeping active, or doing something for the community – have a positive, cumulative effect over time and help make you much more resilient when life is throwing curve balls at you.
Some helpful resources to help you live your best life:
Complete the Men’s Health Week Survey
Another quick and easy way of checking up on your own health habits, and an indication of whether it could be time for a checkup with your local GP, the Men’s Health Week Survey is a great start.
It is also important to note that this survey is not a diagnosis, and it is recommended that all men visit a GP on an annual basis.
Take the survey here.
Check out the Farmstrong website, it has a ton of farmer-to-farmer stories, as well as advice from content experts on topics such as managing stress, avoiding burn out, helpful thinking strategies, nutrition, farm fitness and sleep.
Rural Support Trust
The Rural Support Trust is a support network built by rural people for rural people. As we all know, sometimes weather, finances, relationships, or a build up of farming pressures may start to feel overwhelming, and if left unchecked can affect mental wellbeing.
The Rural Support Trust provides people in rural areas with a free and confidential chat with facilitators trained in mental wellness support, who can talk through any problems you may be having, and connect you with professionals who can provide further support.
Farmers making health a priority
Ben and Renee Riley, Takaka
Ben and Renee Riley are a great example of a farming family who have tweaked their farming operation to prioritise their own well-being and health.
They run a small dairy business in Takaka, Golden Bay which has a focus on profitability rather than production, which Ben says has allowed him to spend more time on the things that are important to him.
As well as this they run the local gym, giving other members of the local community the opportunity to get on top of their health too.
Mark Olsen, Kairanga
Another example of a farmer making his health a priority in his farming operation is Kairanga dairy farmer Mark Olsen.
Mark runs a small dairy business in Kairanga, just out of Palmerston North, and when he’s not on his dairy farm you’ll find him competing in IronMan Triathlon’s and other similar events.
He says that exercising allows him to clear his head, and that he makes some of the biggest decisions about his farming business while he’s training.