Investing in mental health on and off the farm

Ag mental health advocate shares her thoughts on the best ways to manage farm work and personal activities

By Lauren Arva
Staff Writer
Better Farming

Is maintaining a work-life balance different than a life balance?

For Lesley Kelly, co-founder of the Do More Agriculture Foundation and a grain farmer from Watrous, Sask., an important distinction exists.

When considering the concept of a work-life balance, Kelly prefers to think strictly of a life balance.

“My perspective is more along the lines of just having a life balance, and to not have the expectation of ‘You need to have a work-life balance’ because, in farming and agriculture, that can be very challenging,” she says to Better Farming.

“Farming is encompassed in almost everything that we do.”

Lesley Kelly
    Lesley Kelly

Kelly, who is widely known in the ag Twitter community as High Heels & Canola Fields, says creating a strong life balance is as simple as engaging in an activity that “brings you joy.”

“In terms of mental health, whether an activity is off farm, on farm, in Jamaica or wherever, as long as you’re doing something that makes you happy, it shouldn’t necessarily matter where that activity is.”

Self-care can take on many different forms, she explains.

“We think of self-care in terms of ‘Oh, you’ve got to go have a massage, or you have to go do yoga,’ … well, not necessarily.

“As long as that activity is something you enjoy and fills you up, and doesn’t … drain you,” it’s worthwhile, she says.

Depending on unforeseen circumstances and timing, sometimes a person’s personal life requires more balance. Other times, perhaps he or she needs to devote more attention to work, she says.

“For me, the perspective of a life balance (rather than a work-life balance) takes away the expectation that I need to be the best wife, the best mom, the best farmer and the best friend.

“We’re not perfect, and it’s not about perfection. It’s not about a 50/50 or 100 per cent balance. Do what you can do. Know that there are times that are stressful and it’s OK to take time for yourself.” BF

    Brzozowska/E+ photo

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