Summer Sanity – Managing Stress During the Busy Season
When do you go into overdrive?
Is it when you first roll out of bed, with that to-do list in your head, already knowing there aren’t enough hours in the day?
Or is your overdrive in the evening, when you should be wrapping up, but realize that you still have so much to do?
The goats need to be milked, the greens beds weeded. The chickens are out of feed and their coop is overdue for a clean-out.
Or maybe the center pivot isn’t working right, you’re supposed to be cultivating fields, but you’re also behind on fertilizing and the tractor still needs its “regularly scheduled” maintenance that never seems to be as regular as it should be.
Or, maybe, the cows got out (again!) resulting in an unscheduled wild goose (ahem – wild bovine) chase when actually, really, you needed to be haying fields.
The summer season in agriculture brings an intensity to the word busy that is hard for those outside of the profession to fathom. It’s not just busy: it’s mind-bogglingly, spectacularly, unwaveringly overwhelming.
And most of us just run around frantically all summer, desperately trying to catch up.
Here’s a little secret – something you already know, but might not admit:
You’ll never catch up.
The chores will never be all done. The work list will never be completely checked off, You’ll never stop in your tracks mid-field and think, “Wow! Oh my gosh. I have absolutely nothing urgent to do.”
A break in the labor will never find you.
You have to find it.
In the midst of the most chaotic times of the year, it’s easy to get caught up in the (often necessary) habit of running, sometimes literally, from chore to chore. I just need to harvest this row of carrots. If I can just fix the automatic waterer, I have to move these hay bales, plant these rotating beds, check on the animals, call the seed company…
And sometimes, that to-do list mantra rings in our ears until the movement becomes almost manic, going, going, going, to the point of exhaustion, sometimes beyond.
This summer, we’re challenging you to take a break.
It’s a counter-intuitive thing to do, a sort of trust fall into the busy schedule of your day, to believe that doing nothing for a little bit will actually let you do more in the long run.
But it will.
A cup of coffee on the patio, a slow walk through an area that doesn’t bring to mind a chore list. A cuddle with your cat, a sit-down lunch chatting about non-farm topics with your crew. Let your brain (and body) relax and focus on something else, so that when you ask it to focus on work again, you can do it with a new perspective.
How many times have we focused, frustrated, on a problem, spinning our wheels until we walk away, begin something completely different, and then suddenly – wham! The solution we needed?
Try it this summer. Not every day, not without fail. But when you remember. When your brain and body start to buzz with the quantity of work there is to do. Step back, switch gears.
Take a break so you can start again, refreshed.