10 Ideas to Relieve Stress, Now and Always

Matt Rush, Dr. Lowell Catlett and Larry Sailer meet up at the Iowa Farm Bureau Convention on Dec. 5, 2012, in Des Moines

Relieving stress may seem like a strange topic for this Iowa pig farmer to address since I’m not a psychologist, motivational speaker or a college professor.  Fortunately, I had the opportunity to listen to – and learn from – many esteemed experts last week at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) convention in Des Moines.  Today I’d like to share some of my highlights with you.

One person who spoke at the IFBF convention is Dr. Temple Grandin, who is such an inspiration to many people for many reasons.  Temple grew up in Boston, MA, and was diagnosed at age 4 with autism. She has taken what most people would consider a handicap and used it to transform the way livestock is handled.  Because she sees everything in pictures, Dr. Grandin says it’s easy for her to understand how animals think and react.  That’s why most cattle slaughtering plants have sought her help to either design or redesign their operations.

Eugene Sukup of Sukup Manufacturing in Sheffield, Iowa, was awarded the Iowa Farm Bureau Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award

Dr. Grandin has a very direct way of speaking, refusing to be politically correct.  For example, she’s not going to call a packing plant a harvest facility.  She says consumer need to know that they’re slaughter plants and see what happens inside.  On YouTube, she has posted video made while touring a slaughter plant.  I can’t say I agree with all her views, but she does share and educate!

Another presenter was Jolene Brown, who farms with her husband near West Branch, Iowa.  Jolene is a very high energy act!  She often talks about how farm families can blend generations and pass on the operation but that wasn’t the case last week.  During the IFBF convention, Jolene was on a mission to tell busy farmers to find balance in their lives and shared 10 ideas how we all can relieve stress:

  1. Take mini breaks – Find small ways to relieve stress every day.
  2. Schedule and commit to vacations – It doesn’t have to be lavish or expensive but your mind, body and soul needs a break!
  3. Engage in worthy work – Donate time to a good cause.
  4. Demonstrate appreciation –.Thank people; let them know how much you appreciate them.
  5. Clarify necessary documents – Get important papers in order so you don’t worry about them.
  6. Grow your confidence – Set goals and seek feedback to reinforce your actions.
  7. Take two tests – Decide what is urgent and what is ethical.
  8. Build support – Build a group of people to sit on your “board” and advise you.
  9. Keep learning – Always strive to know more.
  10. Celebrate! –Look for humor around you. Laugh at yourself. Associate with positive people. Live with an attitude of gratitude. Always be grateful!

One more speaker I’d like to highlight today is Dr. Lowell Catlett, Regent’s Professor in Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business and Extension Economics and the Dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University… And he lived up to his long title!

Iowa’s own Simon Estes sang during the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Meeting.

Dr. Catlett’s presentation was “Food for a Smart Planet.”  While many believe the Golden Age of Ag was in the early 20th Century, Dr. Catlett’s says that’s wrong.  The Golden Age of Ag is now!  He then explained how this is the first time in the history of the world that Ag can produce enough food to feed everyone on earth a 3,000-calorie diet. In theory, no one should go hungry today.  The big hurdle is getting that food distributed to everyone who needs it.  However, we still need to double our ag output by 2050 to produce enough to feed 9 billion people.

The annual Farm Bureau meeting provided me with so much valuable information and an opportunity to catch up with old friends.  I also had a great chat with Matt Rush, Executive Vice President of the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau.  Matt and I have been friends on Facebook for years, so it was great to finally meet in person.

Sharing thoughts and ideas with friends on Facebook is one way I continue to learn.  Facebook also is a way for me to build a support group, and to some extent, it serves as a “mini break” throughout the day.  Many of my Facebook friends are quick to celebrate agriculture, and several of them share jokes.

The more I think about it, the more I realize social media can be a stress reliever for me – although there are plenty of days when it been a source of stress!  Nonetheless, please excuse me while I go update my status…