New Rural Agribusiness Wellbeing Plan now available - Helping small business owners in rural and remote Australia take action on their mental health.
Think of your mental health like a tractor – when well maintained and serviced regularly it can make it through day-to-day as well as the toughest harvest. However, when it’s worked too hard and not looked after, it won’t run as well as it should. When you work too hard and don’t look after yourself, you can also become burnt out, and find it tough to manage everyday duties, both at home and work.
Just as a tractor needs all its components like the engine, transmission, hydraulics and attachments in good working order to run effectively, you too need your physical, mental and social health to perform at your best.
The purpose of this wellbeing plan is to get you thinking about what you currently do to support your mental health and what you could do to help improve it. When you finish the plan, you will have a list of actions to improve your overall wellbeing, as well as actions to manage specific work factors that might be stressful to you. A wellbeing plan can help you maintain your mental health and manage the day-to-day stress of your work, as well as challenging times like your busy seasons or adverse events like droughts, bushfires or floods.
Below are some of the positive and rewarding parts of working in agribusiness identified by others working in the industry – what are yours?
Understanding this will help you know when it’s time to do something for your wellbeing. Stress can show up in our thoughts, body and actions, and too much stress can cause us to feel burnt out and overwhelmed.
It’s important to think about the times where you might be more stressed than usual so you can be better prepared to manage them. This could include things like harvest time, summer, tax time or school holidays. What are some stressful events in your year and roughly when do they start?
To support you through these stressful times, would you like us to send you some helpful information beforehand to ensure you are better prepared to manage?
Pick one or two of your top priorities to focus on throughout your wellbeing plan. Based on your chosen focus areas you will be given information and actions to help you reduce your stress.
We recommend choosing your top two areas so you are not taking on too much at once. When you are ready, you can create a new wellbeing plan and select additional focus areas.
Some actions related to your top priorities are presented over the next few pages. For each action, you can select the things you are currently doing, would like to do and do not want to do. There is space to add your own ideas and actions, to make sure your wellbeing plan includes things that suit you.
Being prepared for events such as fires, floods, droughts, or pest and disease outbreaks will help you better manage and keep your stress levels down during their occurrence. While these events are something many of us don’t want to think about, being mentally prepared for these events now will save you a lot of stress and pressured decision making if they do occur.
Hint: select just one or two actions here to ensure your wellbeing plan is easy to action.
Finances, cash flow and debt can be a massive cause of stress, particularly when your business is your livelihood and source of income. One way to reduce financial stress is to ensure you are doing everything you can to organise and manage your finances.
Red tape can be a pain to any small business owner, causing additional paperwork and delays, and leading to frustration, stress and lack of motivation. While we can’t change the rules, being well prepared is one of the best ways to minimise the stress associated with navigating red tape.
Maintaining a balance between work and home can be difficult, particularly if you live and work in the same place. Making a conscious effort to spend more time away from work can be helpful.
Taking time off from work can be a small break for leisure and holidays, or can be an unexpected absence due to events like illness, floods or bushfires. Planning for how you will take time off now will make it easier when the time comes.
Making time for friends and family has been identified as the best way to manage wellbeing by agribusiness owners. It can help you talk things through, gain perspective on issues, or take your mind off your worries. Isolation can be a real issue for people living in rural areas, so connecting with others is important to help manage the effects of stress.
Making time for the things you enjoy doing will help you relax and recharge. When thinking about your interests, think of things that aren’t related to the work you do.
Working in agriculture can be physically demanding, but a physical job doesn’t always give you the same benefits as high intensity, short duration periods of activity, including the benefits to your mood. Depending on the type of work you do, you may spend more time operating machinery or overseeing farm workers than doing manual labour, so increasing your physical activity may still be a great addition for your overall wellbeing.
Our physical health has a big impact on our stress levels and mental health. Increasing some healthy habits will also help improve your wellbeing.
Getting enough quality sleep is important for your mood and how productive you are throughout the day. It will also help you with problem solving and better management of stressful situations. Think about how well you perform when you’re tired versus well rested.
Please select how often you would like to do each of the activities you have selected. Some recommended frequencies have been selected, but you can change these to be more or less often, depending on your preferences.
A wellbeing plan can help you manage the unique stress that comes with being a small business owner in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry in rural Australia.
It is a simple and practical way to get you thinking about what you are doing to support your mental health and what you could do to help improve it.
This plan was developed based on feedback from rural agribusiness owners across NSW. Learn more about how it was developed.