Dealing with burnout – ‘If we don’t take time out, time will take us out’

Rural Ireland has changed and as a result, farmers are working longer hours in isolation, according to Physiotherapist Denis O’Connor.

“We live in a very fast moving society and we have little time for ourselves and even less time for other people,” he said.

Speaking at a recent farm safety event in Co. Wexford, O’Connor said that due to the changes in farming and time pressure farmers are prone to burnout.

“I meet a lot of farmers who are up to their tonsils seven days a week and what happens?

“What happens to land if you over farm it? Eventually, it will become real unproductive. In life, the same thing happens and it is called burnout.

The number of people in rural areas who are flat out all day every day trying to keep the show on the road are very very close to burnout.

O’Connor went on the say that it is important to take time out, by spending time with family, visiting friends or going to matches.

“If we don’t take time out of busy schedules, time will take us out,” he said.

Denis O'Connor speaking at the farm safety event.
Denis O’Connor speaking at the farm safety event.

Men find it difficult to talk

O’Connor also said that it is more difficult for men to take time out and discuss their problems as they are hardwired to be tough, strong and to not show any signs of weakness.

Men don’t talk and that is one of the biggest difficulties we have today.

“We need to be conscious of spending a little bit more time in each others company, looking out for each other a little more and more importantly looking out for ourselves,” he said.

Key points for mental well-being:
  • Make more connections and make the connections last
  • Be active – become involved in activities outside of farming
  • Keep on learning – Push yourself and develop new skills
  • Give – the more you give the more you get