Gratitude

Learn More

Read about some ways to practice gratitude from the National Institute of Health.

Rural Wellness from the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The Health Benefits of Gratitude” from PIH Health

Sign up for the AgriSafe newsletter: https://www.agrisafe.org/newsletter/

View upcoming webinars: https://www.agrisafe.org/events/

Created by AgriSafe Network with support from the National Library Of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number UG4LM012345. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.”

Script Arranged by Laura Siegel

Hosted by Carey Portell

Edited by Joel Sharpton

Special Guests: Linda Emanuel

Transcript
Carey:

Welcome to the Talking Total Farmer Health podcast from AgriSafe Network. At AgriSafe, we work to protect the people that feed the world by supporting the health and safety professionals, ensuring access to preventative services for farm families and the agriculture community. Today's episode is brought to you by the network of the National Libraries of Medicine Region Three.

Carey:

It’s the start of a new year, and the winter season is really kicking in. As we are winding down from the holidays, sometimes it might feel like our list of responsibilities keeps piling up… It is times like there, where we need to remind ourselves to take a step back and relax. In fact, Winter is the perfect time to build some healthy habits. Personally, I like to set aside a little bit of time each day, to notice moments that I am thankful for.

Carey:

I’m Carey Portell, AgriSafe Network’s Communication Specialist as well as the host of this show. Today I am here with Linda Emanuel to talk about gratitude and how it can positively affect our lives.

Carey 1:06

Good morning, Linda. Thank you for being a guest on the Total Farmer Health podcast.

Linda:

Good morning to you, Carey. It's a joy to be here sitting and chatting.

Carey:

All right. So first off, let's just go ahead and have you tell us a little bit about yourself.

Linda:

I'm a registered nurse and as well as an ag producer on our three generational family farm here in eastern Nebraska. And we're row crop farmers here. We grow corn and soybeans and help our sons with their cow calf herd operation. I work as a nurse, I work for AgriSafe Network. I'm the Community Health Director and what I do is with my boots on the ground, I get out and talk to the community, talk to farmers and ranchers, and I talk to them about their needs as their health care needs, as they work, doing what they love every day. And it's really been a fulfilling part of my nursing career.

Carey:

Wonderful, so we have lots of questions then for you today. So my very first one is how does stress impact the agrarian culture prevalent in agriculture?

Linda:

Yeah, the agrarian culture. I think most folks know what agrarian culture is, but I would just like to review talk a little bit about what does agrarian culture mean when you're working in agriculture? So as farm families, in many times, those farm families are the center of that farming operation. That's where everything happens, where management is where the workers are. And so within that farm family, there's an interesting dynamic that goes on that family normally works and lives on the same place. They look out their kitchen window when they sit down for a supper, dinner, depending on where you're at in the world and they see the work that needs to be done. It really, they never really are able to separate themselves from that. So it's a way of life and with each the rise of each new day. Farmers tend to their crops or livestock to provide that food, fuel and fiber for a very hungry world. And this life provides a sense of purpose and connects people to nature and food in a way that is can be both healthy and rewarding. Farmers have an attachment to the land and their livestock, and that and that farming and or ranch work is part of their self-identity in the land or that livestock breed that they work so hard to develop means everything to that farmer and that potential of losing that family farm, that is the ultimate loss. Especially if that Farmer Ranch was part of a legacy. And so they may feel like they have let down their ancestors. We know that farmers and ranchers and their families have a strong work ethic. There's no slacking, and they try to stay ahead of any of the weather changes that may be coming on the horizon. Profit margins can be tight, and there's just really no time to complain. And normally there are traditional gender roles for both the male and the female. And those farmers are known for their physical ruggedness. They're independent, and sometimes they can be a little leery of non-farming folks and our mistrust of government officials, and so that rigid behaviors sometimes can get in the way from them seeking health care.

Carey:

All right, so what are some of the common coping mechanisms associated with the stresses in agriculture?

Linda:

So those coping mechanisms vary. Of course, they're all individual. And there are some that are healthy and some that are unhealthy. So the more common unhealthy ones will start there first can be smoking. It could be an increased consumption of alcohol in farmers, especially males are more tend to engage in more risky behaviors. Some other unhealthy coping mechanisms are maybe sleeping too much or too little, or eating too much or too little. And while those behaviors provide instant gratification or relief, they definitely have long term consequences.

Carey:

Let me pause you there real quick… While we’re talking about unhealthy coping mechanisms, I want to ask, what are some signs that a coping mechanism might be negative, or is not working?

Linda:

But some signs, generally speaking, that may indicate that your coping mechanisms that you have are not working can be divided up into three different categories. So it can be emotional signs, cognitive signs or physical signs. And those emotional signs include maybe short tempered, especially for men. When they're stressed, they tend to show that in anger and outbursts. Another emotional sign is they may be unusually quiet or anxious or have that flat affect where they just look closed off and not wanting to talk with anybody and just, you know, just have blah look about them like they’re pulling themselves and isolating themselves out of conversation. They may be more tearfulness, they may express feelings of guilt and those things that they usually they found pleasure in. They're not finding that joy anymore. So that's the emotional signs. Some cognitive signs include difficulty in making decisions. They may have a lack of confidence, maybe changes in their memory. They might have problems solving difficulties there. There also may be an increase in farm accidents. Some physical signs are gastrointestinal distress, abdominal pain, ulcers, low appetite, muscle tension or discomfort, especially in the jaw and in the neck, headaches. There can be a lack of energy, maybe some panic episodes that normally they wouldn't exhibit that show up in chest tightness, difficulty breathing and increased heart rate, increased blood pressure readings, difficulty sleeping, or maybe a decrease in sexual desire or sexual performance. And something you may notice as someone else within that person's circle of friends or family is that the condition of the farm or the ranch may be unmowed or unkept, and that's different behavior. There might be equipment that's in disrepair or an animal’s in need of attention. Those things that normally they took great pride in, they no longer find pride in. And and when it comes to relationships, you may also notice that person to be pulling away from their friends or have a look of despair and just closed off from socially engaging with other folks.

Carey:

That was very informative, thank you for shedding some light on that. Now, looking back to the original question, what are some other coping mechanisms that are out there?

Linda:Carey:

Absolutely. Now, how does the impact of conversation affect our mood?

Linda:

So when we converse, whether that's a one to one or it might be within a group, it can be a collaborative feeling and that collaborative conversation is a two way feeling of the human experience. It is a listening to understand versus listening to reply. That's something that takes a little while to digest. It's a listening to understand versus listening to reply. And it's a conversation, a style, so to speak, where individuals look for a feeling of belonging and feeling they want to feel like they have a value and are accepted. And so when you have a conversation, be mindful of your nonverbals that eye to eye contact so important. Nodding occasionally lets the listener know that you, or the speaker, know that you understand and want to know more. Of course, turn the cell phone off or put it out of your way so you're not distracted by that. Keeping an open body stance have your arms resting completely at your sides or move your hands back and forth. And in that conversation, there's an emotional contagion that can happen that can be spread within the conversation. If it's a negative conversation, that negative prevailing mood, especially if there's leaders in that group, can lead to a feeling of dissonance or that feeling that there's clash or tension, whereas a positive emotional contagion can lead folks to feeling a resiliency and confidence. And it's also important when you are conversing that to indicate a feeling of empathy, that empathy versus sympathy empathy builds a working alliance and it drives those connections. And it's a feeling with the people, and a collaborative conversation also allows the individual to stay out of judgment.

Carey:

Hmmm. Yeah. So how does the information you receive during a conversation affect your resilience?

Linda:

So resilient conversations create that sense of community, that feeling of belonging and through sincere interactions, it also creates social capital. So what is social capital? Well, social capital is defined as the stock of active connections among people. It's the trust. It's a mutual understanding, shared values and behaviors that bind members of human networks and communities and make cooperative actions possible. And that's a lot. That's a lot of words. But really, what it means, essentially, it is a feeling a rich feeling of belonging, acceptance and value that one brings through connections and networking.

Carey:

After the break, we will hear more from Linda about gratitude and how it can fit into our lives.

Carey:

Have you ever gotten a diagnosis and wanted more information about it? Maybe you have a question about a farm injury. Check out MedlinePlus.gov. A resource for health information for patients and their families. Brought to you by the world's largest medical library, the National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus.Gov gives you high quality, relevant health and wellness information that is trusted and easy to understand. Their information is available in both English and Spanish and free to you anytime, anywhere on Medlineplus.gov. You can get more information about a variety of health topics. Read about a medical test you may have to take research, drugs and supplements you may be interested in, plus much more. Check out Medline Plus Gov today to learn more.

Carey:

Now you've talked about gratitude, and obviously this is the gratitude season. What is gratitude and how do you relate it to our everyday conversations?

Linda:

So I ran across a quote when I was doing some research on gratitude that that really resonated well with me. It says it's as gratitude is the single most important ingredient to living a successful and fulfilled life. Gratitude is the practice of acknowledging and honoring which you already have and do. And it's been proven to actually increase your well-being and the bonus is It's free. It can be practiced all year long, not only during the season of gratitude, but all year long. And an additional definition is that it's being thankful to show appreciation, to live fully and have a great full heart wherever you are at. And gratitude can fill the brain with a sense of wonder. And and when you use gratitude as part of your daily life, when you share gratitude with others, it's like a magnetic force that attracts people to you. It is helpful in relationships. It builds trust, strengthens relationships and as a side benefit, it can also increase romance and significant others.

Carey:

I love gratitude, and I love the passion that I hear in your voice as you talk about it. So how does gratitude in our physical and mental health connect?

Linda:

Well, we know that the physical body, the mental body, emotional body all have an interconnectedness, right? If one's off balance, more than likely, the other one will show it. So when you are grateful, you feel positive emotions that release dopamine and serotonin, those feel good chemicals in your brain, and these chemicals trigger the amygdala. And that's part of the brain kind of a little walnut shaped little organ or part of the brain that's nestled deep, deep in the brain. And and with that little guy does it processes memory decision making and emotional responses, and the amygdala likes that triggered response and, well, more of those happy chemicals. It says, Ooh, I like that. Let's have more of that. And so when you use gratitude and that amygdala is happy, it helps us to ward off the mental health issues like stress, anxiety and depression. And people who are able to acknowledge that they have a lot to be thankful for are more likely to pay attention to their physical health. And therefore then it also helps our mental and emotional health. Those who express gratitude normally have fewer headaches, fewer respiratory infections, gastrointestinal issues along with heart, healthier hearts. And I can't help think that's got to do something with our stress level that we're decreasing. Our stress plus gratitude can help you sleep better if you have positive grateful thoughts running through your head before you go to sleep. Rather than replaying stressful events of the day, you're more likely to fall asleep and sleep more soundly. And the good sleep is essential for recharging your body and mind and helping you to ward off health issues like high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. On the mental side, the cognitive side, gratefulness helps you to increase your self-esteem. When you feel grateful, you're more likely to think of yourself in a more positive light because you're more less likely to compare yourself to others. And and that's a catalyst for good personal growth. When we talk about agriculture, we have lots of negative stressors, right? There's things that we can control in those things that we cannot control in our daily life. And those negative stressors can be seen like weeds that take over and destroy the clarity of the brain, as well as that it can be detrimental to our physical health. So what gratitude does is it blocks those negative thoughts. It's acts like a weed mat to reduce anxiety, reduce blood pressure, decrease aches and pains, help that good restorative sleep that we so greatly need, as well as increase our immunity.

Carey:

Wonderful. What power does gratitude hold in our relationships, both personal and in the workplace?

Linda:

Yeah, great question. So the power of gratitude is to speak. It is to practice it when giving as well as receiving gratitude. Our relationships can be energized. You'll have an uptake uptick and that feeling of resilience, you'll find joy in those everyday demands of work. Gratitude helps us in our workplace and our personal life to build and nurture those strong, resilient relationships. When you express feelings of gratitude to other people, you're also more empowered to talk about any concerns you may have about your relationship. And all of this may result in stronger and more trusting relationships. It's so good to have your people around you that just surround you. Practicing gratitude helps oneself to achieve a greater good within a community to achieve goals in meaningful work. Many resilient leaders love the challenge of working for a greater good. It almost forces them into bigger risks and bigger experiences. And as it turns out, those relationships we cultivate form our networks that give us courage and a source of happiness and comfort. Relationships also strengthen us emotionally and improve our physiological well-being. And when we feel better, we think better.

Carey:

Yes, agreed. Now we talked a lot about expressing and practicing gratitude. But how do you actually do that purposely?

Linda:

So there are different methods, and of course, everyone will maybe find something that works a little bit better for them. One idea is to keep a journal or a list to note what you're grateful for, and that could be something big or small that happened through the day. So write your bullet point list of gratitude on a sticky note and maybe post it on a bathroom mirror, something that you see every day or a refrigerator. And when things are hard, take a moment to think of what you can be grateful for in the situation, rather than just focusing on the negative. When you're in those tough moments, take a positive conscience deep breath to engage in the moment to be thankful. For those of us that practice yoga, we know all about that deep corner breath of filling that belly with air and then slowly letting the breath go and and think about all that you're grateful for during that moment. Consider lighting a candle in coming to a place of quiet and stillness while you reflect on those experiences that you can be thankful for. It's important to let go of those things that are not personally controllable. And this really allows yourself a time for renewal to reconnect with yourself and maybe find some creative thinking and complex problem solving. I talked about the breath in pulling in that attitude of gratitude with the breath helps you to anchor your mind and notice the awareness of the body, maybe noticing those areas of tension. And I invite you each day to take a couple of moments to just breathe in and out gratitude.Gratitude is a gift to yourself, and it allows you to be present in the moment. And another idea to spark how to practice gratitude is to tell someone how special they are to you and how thankful you are for them and something they've done or write a note. Research has shown that the power of writing a handwritten notes, especially when you that handwritten note is in a natural tone or maybe finding something specific there you are thankful for. For them, there's a lot of power and that can alone help you to lift spirits of sadness or alleviate anxieties.

Carey:

Oh, that's wonderful. Linda, we've really enjoyed having you on the podcast today, is there anything else that you'd like to discuss about gratitude?

Linda:

A little bit a closing thought. So creating an intention of feeling and expressing gratitude at all times and across all situations can be a powerful guiding force to help you through your day.And and that's what really we are here for to enjoy the experience. And then just to take in all of the gifts around us.

Carey:

What a wonderful closing thought, thank you so much, Linda.

Linda:

Oh, you're welcome, it was a pleasure being for being here with you, Carey, and I am thankful for this moment this time that we had together.

Carey:

Thanks for listening to another episode of Talking Total Farmer Health. Be sure to subscribe to this podcast to hear more from AgriSafe on the health and safety issues impacting agricultural workers. To see more from AgriSafe, including webinars and our newsletter, visit www.agrisafe.org. This episode was created by AgriSafe Network with The Network of the National Library of Medicine Region Three. Script arranged by Laura Siegel, hosted by Carey, edited by Joel Sharpton. Special guest was Linda Emanuel.

← Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.