WASHINGTON — It is a perfect time of year to focus on the importance of self-care with the observance of May as Mental Health Awareness Month. Self-care is essential to maintaining a healthy relationship with ourselves. This means being proactive to take care of our minds, bodies, and souls by engaging in activities that promote well-being and reduce stress. Engaging in self-care is not a selfish act, but rather a way to remind ourselves and others that our needs are valid and a priority.
Self-care can be simpler than it sounds and can be practiced by doing something you enjoy, but do not always make time for. This may include listening to a podcast or music, reading a book, watching a movie, or assembling a puzzle. Here are a few self-care practices to help eliminate stress and strengthen your mental well-being:
Adopt better sleep habits: Prepare yourself for a restful night’s sleep by securing a comfortable environment. Turn off electronics, lights, and other distractions that may stimulate the brain.
Begin an exercise regimen: Start with small changes by opting to take the stairs, if able, instead of the elevator. Take stretch breaks during the day. Go on a walk or a bike ride.
Find a hobby: Don’t be afraid to try something new or do something you enjoy.
Take a social media break: Put down the tablet, smartphone, step away from the computer for a block of time.
Utilize stress management techniques: Try yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises.
Get organized: Use a planner to set goals for yourself. You will feel a sense of accomplishment crossing things off your list!
Keep a journal: Instead of dwelling over negative thoughts, put them down on paper. Then “close the book on them” and enjoy your day.
Volunteer: It feels good to help a friend or give back to your community, as well as a great way to connect and cultivate relationships.
Strengthen your communication skills: Make connections by reaching out and talking to someone, as well as be a good listener.
Treat yourself, as well as others, with respect: Remember, we are all human, we make mistakes, and we miss goals, but maintaining a positive outlook is key.
Self-care is an important practice to adults and children alike, as they both can feel stress. And in response, the Progressive Agriculture Foundation® recently developed curriculum for its Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program focusing on mental well-being and stress management for youth. The newly developed curriculum includes eight hands-on activities and demonstrations to assist children in understanding stress and their emotions, help them learn to adopt coping strategies, and share resources to ensure conversations continue at home.
This new mental well-being and stress management curriculum and resources were made possible through initial funding support from Farm Credit, a 4-star partner of the Foundation. Additional support for the development of this curriculum was made possible through grant projects with the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, and the University of Illinois North Central Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Center (funded by USDA-NIFA 2020-70028-32728).
The “Safety Day Corner” is a safety message by the Progressive Agriculture Foundation® (PAF), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, with the mission to provide education, training, and resources to make farm, ranch, and rural life safer and healthier for all children and their communities. Recognized as the largest rural safety and health education program in North American, the Foundation’s Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program, has reached more than 1.8 million youth – and counting – since the program’s inception in 1995. For more information about PAF and its programs, visit: www.progressiveag.org.
–Jana L. Davidson
Progressive Agriculture Foundation
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