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One homesteading subject that isn’t touched on often is mental health. The excitement of self-sufficiency and all that comes with it is an amazing experience — but can cause a lot of mental strain and exhaustion.
According to statistics, roughly 9.5 percent of the adult population in the US experiences depression every year, with about 3.5 percent having severe depression lasting longer than two years. Depression is often associated with an unhealthy lifestyle, but you may be surprise to learn that people living a healthy, rewarding life can still experience depression, feelings of sadness, mental fatigue or just feeling like they are overwhelmed.
There is a difference between true depression and just “feeling down.” Depression is a serious mental health condition that does occur in some people, but statistically the average homesteader won’t experience it on a regular basis. Rather, they will more likely experience normal difficulty coping with stress, anxiety and other types of mental strain.
If you feel like you may be depressed, please schedule an appointment with your doctor for further advice. Even if you don’t believe you are depressed but just feel overwhelmed, a visit to your doctor to have a blood test can really help. Your doctor may find you have a vitamin deficiency, thyroid issue or some other physical problem that is affecting your ability.
Tips for Coping with Mental Stress
The homesteading or self-sufficiency lifestyle can be very stressful — no doubt about that. However, there are ways you can help yourself get through more difficult periods of time.
1.Create Yearly Goals to Keep You on Track. How often does the end of the year come around and you think, “Wow … I didn’t get as much done as I thought I did.” Not achieving the projects you wanted can be disheartening. Setting goals is especially important on the homestead, as there is a ton to do and not very much time to do it (if you have harsh winters). Goals will keep you on track, allow you to see how much you’ve done and divvy up your time so the most important things are done first. I recommend using the SMART goal-setting system for everyone.
2. Take a Vitamin D and/or B12 Supplement. Both of these vitamins are important for health but also are very beneficial for mental health. If you feel overwhelmed and lacking energy, you may be deficient in these two. Vitamin D in tablet or capsule form works very well, while B12 is used more efficiently by your body if you use a liquid supplement.
3. Take a Magnesium Supplement or Use It In a Bath/Footbath. Magnesium is an important mineral for heart health and mental health. It is especially good at helping those with depression. You can take magnesium as a capsule or a liquid mixed with water. Add some magnesium flakes to your bath or a footbath to instantly relax you and help you sleep better.
4. Reduce Your Responsibilities. Sometimes homesteaders feel overwhelmed because they have more on their plate than they can handle. If you suspect this is the case, you need to lighten your load. Reduce the size of your garden or sell off some livestock. Or instead you could hire a neighborhood kid to help you.
5. Connect with Other Like-Minded People in Person or Online. Don’t underestimate how powerful connecting with other like-minded folks can be. Every person, whether they have a small urban homestead plot or a 100 acre cattle operation, experiences the same moments of feeling anxious, overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. Sharing your struggles with others doesn’t just boost your morale but also can give you some excellent ideas on coping or fixing a certain problem you never even thought of.
6. Make Time to Relax and Reflect on a Regular Basis. It is easy to fall into the trap that successful homesteaders are always busy homesteaders. Stop this by taking time at the end of every day to relax and think about what you did. You can take a bath, chat with your significant other over a cup of tea or sit outside looking over your land and livestock.
7. Get Away From Your Property Often. Everyone can get irritable and anxious when they don’t allow themselves to go out. Unfortunately, it is easy to just become a bit of a hermit — but this isn’t healthy. Make an effort to get away from your place on a regular basis. It can be a day out with your family, a weekend of camping (practice your survival skills!) or a full-on vacation away. It really depends on what you find relaxing and financially manageable.
It is just as important to take care of your brain as it is to take care of your body.
If you have any tips to help others who are feeling stressed, feel free to share them in the comments section below.