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Simple strategies can help reduce negative effects of stress for hog farmers

By Bruce Cochrane, Farmscape & Lynn Redl-Huntington

The creator of High Heels and Canola Fields says simple strategies can make a big difference when it comes to dealing with the everyday stresses that occur on the farm. "When Stress is More Than a Season" was the keynote address last month at the 45th annual Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium. Lesley Kelly, the creator of High Heels and Canola Fields, a mental wellness website, and a co-founder of Do More Ag, noted mental stress can result in physical symptoms but the signs will vary from person to person.

”The signs and symptoms of stress can vary depending on who you are or your life experiences, what you're going through, but all of us have different normals. My normal might be different than my husband's and that's OK,” said Lesley Kelly, who is a cohost of "What The Farm" podcast, and a Board of Director for Saskatchewan Wheat and Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan.

“For each and every one of us some of those signs and symptoms could be physical, mental and emotional. Physical could be increased heart rate, chest pain, tension headache. Under the emotional and the mental front, it could be a change in our eating and sleeping, it could be being angry, a feeling of depression or a depressed state, angry blow-ups, irritability, frustration. It really depends on the person and it could be the stressor too,” explained Kelly.

The Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium is recognized as one of Canada’s leading pork industry conferences. It attracted nearly 300 producers, industry stakeholders and government representatives from across Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. Expert local, national, and international speakers shared the latest information and trends on hog production, animal health and welfare, new technology, and the global outlook for the North American hog industry.

“There are little things that you can do which can make some big everyday impacts. Those include learning about stress and learn what your signs and symptoms could be, learn about what are your big stressors in life. It could also be learning that everyone's stress is different and learning to talk about stress and starting those conversations and helping someone go through that stress together. Then it could also be doing things to take care of yourself and those around you, so some self care tactics and strategies before, during and after those stressful moments,” added Kelly, who has been part of the national Bell Let's Talk campaign that has raised over $129 million dollars for mental health community initiatives across Canada.

The Do More Agriculture Foundation is the first and only registered charity focused solely on mental health in agriculture, whose mission is to break barriers, support all farmers in taking care of their mental well-being and bring much needed resources to the industry.  Since its inception in 2018, the foundation has trained over 1,000 farmers across Canada in mental health first aid and its own agriculture tailored mental health workshop. They have launched AgCulture, a first of its kind agricultural mental health literacy program for mental health professionals to understand the unique challenges farmers face and have partnered with over 50 organizations across the country to champion mental health and support farmers, their families and agriculture communities. Kelly was recognized by the Regina YWCA with the Women of Distinction award for this work.

Kelly said there is support available to help cope with stress. She encourages farmers to visit for a list of resources.

Source : Saskpork

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