My husband, who works in the computer profession, has a shirt that states, “Hope is Not a Strategy.” While this may be true in his line of work or many others, I dare say hope IS at least a partial strategy in many areas of life. Take agriculture for instance. Producers try to be proactive to ensure a healthy robust harvest. Some steps might include installation of field tile; maintenance and upkeep of equipment; purchase of seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, and other necessary chemicals; maintenance of buildings, barns, and overall property; purchase and use of PPE (personal protective equipment); assessment and care of livestock; and the list goes on.
No matter how many steps are taken or how prepared producers try to be, mother nature does not always cooperate. So, after the preparation is done, most producers HOPE this year will yield a bountiful harvest. As we all know, that’s not always the case. Whether spring is too wet to get the crops in the ground; the growing season is too wet, too dry, or too hot; storm or flood damage; a rainy fall that delays harvest; some pest or disease attacks the crops or livestock; or low commodity prices and/or high costs; producers rely on HOPE to get through and keep going.
While HOPE is a strategy for the physical aspects of agriculture, it is also great for the mental aspects. This time of year can be more difficult for people, especially those who have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or it’s milder form Winter Depression. Most people develop symptoms in late fall or early winter that persist until late spring or summer. Symptoms may include:
- Feeling listless, sad, or down most of the day, nearly every day
- Losing interest in activities you enjoyed
- Having low energy and feeling sluggish
- Sleeping too much
- Experiencing carbohydrate cravings, overeating and weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty
- Having thoughts of not wanting to live
Spring and Summer SAD (SAD can occur ANY time of year) symptoms include:
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Agitation or anxiety
- Increased irritability
Even those who don’t have these symptoms may struggle at times, and HOPE can be a strategy. You can help folks who may be struggling to remember there is HOPE! There are people (mental health professionals) who can and want to help. There are things people can do for themselves to help manage and/or alleviate symptoms. There are people who love and care about them and seeking help is in NO WAY a sign of weakness.
Some self-care tips to maintain good mental health include:
- Get regular exercise.
- Eat healthy, regular meals and stay hydrated.
- Make sleep a priority.
- Try a relaxing activity.
- Set goals and priorities.
- Practice gratitude.
- Focus on positivity.
- Stay connected to friends and family.
If you or someone you know or love has thoughts of suicide, please call the suicide and crisis hotline at 988 to be connected immediately to a mental health professional. There is HOPE.
Author: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewer: Dee Jepsen, State Specialist in Agricultural Safety and Health, Ohio State University Extension, email@example.com
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