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Using your environment to settle your thoughts

When the world feels overwhelming, you can use the beauty of your farm to slow things down.

Living and working in rural Australia can be incredibly rewarding. But as all farmers know, there are times it can be incredibly stressful. If you find yourself overwhelmed by life’s noise and the demands of routines, chores, managing farm and family needs, you are not alone.

Our stress response system is one of the oldest systems of the brain. It is incredibly important and has developed to keep us safe and stay motivated. However, when we become overly stressed it can impact how we think, how we feel and what we do. This can lead us to make silly mistakes or even snap at loved ones.

When our brain is in this place we are in our “flight/fight” system. This system is all about acting for survival and is great when we need to make a quick getaway or fight for our life. But this system is not a great place for the body to stay for too long. Staying in “flight/fight” long term can have damaging effects to your health such as chronic headaches, heart disease or high blood pressure.

Sensory grounding is a way to move our body out of this flight/fight system. Below are some actions you can take that may help you to calm your system down, giving you a chance to settle and restore.

Try this-

  • Start by taking 5 long slow breaths out.
  • Pay attention to where you are and take notice of 5 things you can see. It might be the shape of the clouds, seasonal changes in the tree, a bird nearby.
  • Listen in to your environment. What are 3 things you can hear?
  • Finally find something you can smell. You might want to grab some leaves to crush or find a plant you know has a rich smell. Take 3 deep breaths.

By doing even one of these actions for a few seconds you kick start your parasympathetic nervous system; your calm down system. This starts to slow down your heart rate and breathing, and switch on your rational brain helping you to problem solve and jump out of the racing thought loop we get stuck in when stressed.

Taking a moment to ground yourself throughout the day using your senses is a simple habit to practice that will make a solid impact on your mental and physical health both in the moment and over the long term.

If you would like to know more about stress and techniques to support good mental health, get in touch with our Rural Aid counselling and wellbeing team. Counselling isn’t only about getting help when things aren’t going well, it can also be about learning strategies to be your healthiest self.