Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and I am not a doctor. If you think you may be suffering from anxiety, depression or other mental health issue, please seek professional help. This article is for informational purposes only.
“The opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression.”
Or another way to look at it is, excessive workloads could be a major cause of anxiety and depression in the farming community. As a marketer I want to understand my customer. How they think, what motivates them and why they make the decision they do.
One thing that has always puzzled me is when people ask for help, then they struggle to make a decision. Is it fear of the unknown or something else? While listening to the James Altucher Show episode 234, it hit me when Charlie said “The opposite of play isn’t work, its depression” I immediately thought of the farmers I know that have struggled with real depression, those with severe anxiety and many I have encountered that struggle to make decisions. Is there a link?
Farmers work more than any group I have ever known. My experience growing up on the farm is there is more work to do than one person could do in a lifetime. Farming isn’t just a job. It’s a person’s complete life. Its 24/7. You live at the office, at the factory. Its always there. And there is always more to do. This can lead to bouts of anxiety.
The workload, the financial pressures, poor weather, sick livestock, and poor harvest can compound, leading to real depression. Farming has not been this difficult since the 1980’s, clear thinking, sound judgement and calculated risks could be the difference of making a profit or a loss.
Studies show that depression erodes confidence, hope and clear thinking of persons dealing with depression. That reduces motivation and the capacity to work effectively, and drags people down. Depressed persons tend to be negative, unable to move ahead with tasks, withdrawn and sometimes unpredictably volatile.
Farming is also a socially isolated career with small, close knit communities of neighbors, co-workers, and families. Imagine a farmer that was going to a shrink, what would his neighbors say, his family, or worse, his land lord. On top of that, famers are typically raised to be tough, self-reliant and not complain about problems. How would it look to seek help?
Unfortunately it’s this lack of support that causes those that suffer to close down even more. When you feel you can’t talk about or show depression, its just a step deeper into the darkness. So most farmers ignore the symptoms. If asked if everything is ok, he might say, I am just tired, of self-medicate with alcohol or other substances.
This downward spiral, the self-medication coupled with a feeling of having nowhere to turn for help leads to the idea of suicide as the only way out.
Studies have shown that compared with non-farmers, farmers have a higher prevalence of depression, particularly the male farmers, who also had higher anxiety levels. This is related to longer work hours, lower income, higher psychological job demands and less decision latitude compared with non-farmers. In the U.S. the rate of farmer suicides is just under two times that of the general population.
Could less work and more play be the answer?
Growing up on the farm I was taught to do your chores first, then play. Luckily even though we worked hard, there was always time for friends and sports. Now that I am older I find there is always more to accomplish. I find personally less time for play.
What if the secret to getting more done, being more successful was strategic play
From James Altucher:
Charlie was overworked. He was working 22 hours a day to keep up with his boss.
Feeling burnt out, he took a week off to recover. That week turned into a year.
He sought medical help. He refused the drugs they prescribed. He tried deep breathing exercises, therapy, journaling, all different supplements, exercise, psychedelic drugs, volunteering, prayer. He even took a course on “How to Overcome Anxiety.”
But none of it stuck… “Every day he felt like he was going to die.”
Then he read , “The opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression.”
“The research is pretty clear,” Charlie said. “They have done experiments. They’ve deprive animals of play—they give them love, nurturing, food, shelter, all the things they need to survive— but they deprive them of play, the animal inevitably grows up to be socially and emotionally crippled.”
Charlie calls it “chronic-play deprivation.” And I think many people suffer from that.
Sound like any fathers, uncles, or brothers who farm that you know?
Charlie said he was approaching life “so seriously and joylessly. And very much in terms of what’s the output, what’s the income, what’s the money pay-off.”
There never was a pay-off.
James asked, “How did you learn to play again?”
Charlie said playing every day IMMEDIATELY had an effect. “Not just on how I felt but in how people responded to me.”
Check out the James Altucher Podcast to hear the full story.
If you have any friends or family you think may be dealing with anxiety or depression, please encourage them to seek medical help.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terezia-farkas/why-farmer-suicide-rates-_1_b_5610279.html http://www.farmandranchguide.com/entertainment/country_living/farm_and_ranch_life/understanding-managing-depression-critical-for-farmers/article_916c7af4-9684-11e4-af93-33ef37fbca72.html http://www.farmerhealth.org.au/page/depression/depression-the-facts http://www.heysigmund.com/anxiety-interferes-decision-making-stop-intruding/ https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201603/how-does-anxiety-short-circuit-the-decision-making-process https://neuroscience.stanford.edu/news/opposite-play-not-work-%E2%80%94-it-depression
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