When times are tough

When times are tough

Written by: Marg McKay

Counsellor and Community Representative – Victoria, Rural Aid


The past few years have been such a challenge for our farming communities that it’s difficult to get your head around. From years of drought to bushfires to unprecedented floods and it’s no surprise that I have heard many a farmer ask, “Why do I bother?”. The answer is that farming is who you are, it is part of your DNA. It’s what makes you get up at the crack of dawn and witness the start of another day and it is what brings you home as the sun sets, tired and exhausted ready to do it all again tomorrow.

Of course, you could sell up, move to town and get a regular nine-to-five job, but would that bring you happiness? No-one said farming would be easy. There are the good times and these are what we need to focus on when times are tough. And at the moment, things couldn’t get much tougher for rural communities and our farmers who put the food on our tables.

My favourite book is an Australian classic titled “A Fortunate Life” by A.B.Facey. It is the story of an ordinary Australian man who lived an extraordinary life. Albert Facey lived a simple life with honesty, compassion and courage. The same characteristics that I see in so many of our farmers today. He was a parentless boy who started work at the age of eight in the rough West Australian frontier. He struggled as a rural worker, survived the gore of Gallipoli, the loss of his farm in the depression, the death of his son in World War II and the death of his beloved wife after sixty devoted years of marriage – yet he felt that his life was fortunate.

Focussing on your strengths can be difficult during tough times.

It doesn’t matter if it is a pandemic, personal issues or a natural disaster, everyone faces tough times. Staying positive during these challenges can make all the difference.

Here are 10 things you can do to get through tough times:

Understand what you can and can’t control.
You can’t control what’s going on, but you can control your actions. When the challenges seem like too much, focus on what you can control, and remember that everything changes, from the way we feel, to the weather, and everything in between.
Avoid staring at your bank accounts.
Keeping a constant eye on your finances during difficult times will only cause stress. The numbers will likely dip before they get better, but don’t dwell on it.
Don’t keep the news on 24/7.
It can be tempting to constantly pay attention to the news, but that will only distract you and add to your stress. Instead, set specific times to check the news and focus on reputable sources, not rumours.
Stay away from negative people.
When you’re facing challenges, the last thing you need is someone complaining. You need people around you who support you.
Make sure you have a positive support network.
Build a network of people who support you and can lift you up with a hug or words of encouragement during tough times. It can be friends, family members, other farmers, a Rural Aid counsellor or anyone you can count on to be positive and stay in your corner.
Remember this is temporary.
When you hit turbulence on a flight, the scary shaking eventually gives way to smooth air. Tough times are the same–they are scary in the moment, but eventually, you’ll reach smooth sailing. Eventually the floods will dry up.
Take time for yourself.
Find ways to practice self-care every day. Go for a walk, take a long shower, read a book—whatever it is, you need to have a moment for yourself.
Remind yourself what you have to be grateful for.
It’s easy to focus on the negative, especially during tough times. But no matter your circumstances, there’s always something to be grateful for, even if it’s small. Family, friends, people offering support, the sunrise in the morning, the sunset in the evening.
Focus your time and energy on something constructive.
Don’t just sit in your struggles. Find an outlet to clear your head, whether it be work, playing with the kids, visiting a mate, talking to someone who’ll listen.
Use technology to stay connected with friends and family.
This is especially important if you are away from your support system. Keep those bonds strong with video chats and phone calls.

Challenges will always come our way, but I hope these 10 tips will help you stay positive and optimistic just as Albert Facey did though out his life.

Stay positive, things will get better.

Wishing all our farmers and their families a lovely Christmas and an even better New Year.

To talk to a Rural Aid Counsellor, phone the free line 1300 17 55 94