I'm 42 and I feel great!

Laugh more, stress less: tips for stress reduction on the farm

Amber Adrian Event, Latest Blog Posts, Thought Leadership


We’ve done it—another year of Customer Summits is in the bag! We had an outstanding time with customers in Minneapolis and St. Louis this year. This is a summary of the content in our final presentation at the Minneapolis event. Lyndy Phillips is a professional speaker, entertainer, magician and a former pastor. His keynote speech is called "Laugh More, Stress Less," and we thought he'd be a great fit for our growers after a stressful year. He didn't disappoint!  

After a clever video introduction by a George W. Bush impersonator, Lyndy greeted the room. “Thank you Conservis for letting me be here. What a great group. Last night somebody said it's the people, and it is about the people," he said. "You guys are awesome—it's just great to meet everybody. You're so downhome. I appreciate the opportunity to come and close this day out with a little bit of laughter."

Lyndy opened by talking about his upbringing on a Texas farm. He explained how he first got interested in performing, especially as a magician, and noted that his family and neighbors supported his passion for entertainment. “That’s what I love about farming communities—we get behind our young people,” he said.

He pulled a few farmers up to demonstrate some tricks as the room filled with laughter. Soon he took his talk in a more serious direction. “Listen, if magic were real, this is the magic trick I would do: make stress disappear. Wouldn’t that be awesome?” Lyndy said, showing the word in all caps evaporate in a poof on the screen. “I wish I could do that, but I can’t, so the next best thing I can do is talk about it in such a way that we don’t ignore it,” he said.

“Now, I don’t know what you’ll all think about this. Is farming stressful?” He showed a picture of an elderly man, and after a few seconds revealed the caption “I’m 42 and feeling great!” which sparked loud laughts. “Farming and ranching is one of the top 12 high stress occupations you can choose, and it also carries a high risk of stress-related health problems and diseases,” Lyndy explained. “It’s so important to bring stress levels down, and I’m going to talk about how we can do that.”

What stress does to us

Stress attacks both our bodies and minds, Lyndy explained. “You might not even realize you’re stressed until you feel it in your body,” he said. Stress can manifest physically as many things: fatigue, headache, upset stomach, muscle tension, change in appetite, or teeth grinding/clenching.

We also feel stress psychologically. “Now this is where I got really interested in studying stress. Because I understood the physical side, but how does it affect our minds?” he said. He discussed the work of Dr. Leslie Hart, who came up with a term called downshifting. “Here’s what she found out: you can become so stressed that your mind literally downshifts.”

He explained that high stress levels can compromise your thinking. You quite literally become less intelligent when you’re more stressed. “She calls it ‘clouded thinking,’” Lyndy said. “This is where it gets a little dangerous on the farming side. If we’re so stressed, that our minds have downshifted, accidents can happen. And then farming is even more dangerous,” he said. “An accident can be just that, but it can also be we’re so stressed, we’re not thinking.”

Everyone has stress. Lyndy identified the top three stressors in most people’s lives as money, relationships, and children. “They can suck the joy out of your life. Not because they mean to, that’s just what they do!” he said, as he flipped through several pictures of kid disasters and the room chuckled in solidarity. "But seriously, stress is an issue. And in the ag industry, we generally have even more stress in addition to these common stressors," he said.

“Here’s why I do what I do: I don’t want any of you to let stress get to you. There’s something you can do about it—you can get on the proactive side," Lyndy said. "If you’re stressed today, there are ways you can literally bring that stress down.”

Six ways to reduce stress

Conservis customers laughingThe six ways Lyndy suggested for reducing stress:

    1. Listening to music
    2. Physical exercise
    3. Read/learn
    4. Prayer
    5. Rest
    6. Laughter

“We’ve always heard that music is good for the soul, but it’s been proven that stress can drop dramatically with music,” Lyndy said. As far as exercising, a little can go a long way with regard to stress reduction: “A 10-minute walk can be just as effective as a 60-minute workout when it comes to stress,” he said.

Lyndy elaborated when it came to talking about rest. “I know I’m speaking to the ag industry, and it’s hard, I realize that. I don’t think we took a vacation until I was in 8th grade," he said. "But even something like this (the conference) has gotten you away. Just being here and away from the farm is bringing your stress levels down,” he said. “If you can do vacations, that’s the best way. Vacations were meant to remove you from the stress that’s in your life so you can re-charge and recover."

His favorite stress-reducer? Laughter, of course. “But here’s my favorite—something that’s absolutely free, until the government gets ahold of it,” he joked. “They’ve studied laughter and proven that it’s significant to your health. It’s a very powerful thing to laugh,” he said, adding the amazing fact that one minute of laughter will boost your immunity for 24 hours.

He went on to give many examples of the mainstream medical world acknowledging the power of laughter. He stated that Cancer Treatment Centers of America have laughter therapy because they know how good it is for healing and recovery. Citing a robust Canadian study from the 1990s, Lyndy also explained that heart attack survivors who engaged in 30 minutes of laughter a day improved their heart health and prognosis significantly.

You can find reasons to laugh everywhere, Lyndy said. He went on to show a series of pictures of humorous signs, situations, and other things he’s noticed in everyday life. Laughter filled the room as he showed slide after slide of images he’s collected over the years, many from just paying attention and having a sense of humor about life.

"I don't want stress to take you out"

As he wrapped up the parade of funny images Lyndy came to his conclusion. “I love to hear you laugh, because I know it brings stress down and I know it heals your body,” he said. His care for the people he was speaking to felt sincere: “I want you to live longer. I don’t want stress to take you out. Some of you, your body might be ravaged because of stress. If you put some of these things into practice, you can recover. Your body will respond and begin to heal itself.”

He ended with a few more playful interactions with the young farmer he used in his demonstration before signing off: “Laugh more, stress less!”

We were thrilled to have Lyndy talk with us and highlight ways we can keep farming stress at bay. Your mental health is important. You can take care of your farm and your family better when you make sure to take care of yourself. Here’s hoping 2020 holds less stress for everyone.

 

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