#017 Transcript: How to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Hey there, and welcome back to another episode of The Profitable Mindset Podcast.
Welcome to The Profitable Mindset, a show dedicated to teaching you the skills you need to build a profitable product-based business that makes you feel free and fully and control. Here’s your host, Charlotte Smith.
Hey there. Welcome to episode number 17 of The Profitable Mindset Podcast: How to Reduce Stress and Anxiety on the Farm. Yes, I know this is a big one, because I see all the comments you guys are making on social media. I get your emails. I read your messages about how common stress and anxiety is among us farmers, so I’m bringing you some help today.
I did a post on this about a year ago where I teamed up with my husband, who’s a psychotherapist. We gave you some tips on how to reduce your stress and anxiety then. It’s been one of my most popular posts over the last year, so I know that you’re out there wanting some help, and here it is. Now, my husband and I are both trained in how to teach people to learn to manage their thoughts and practice their self-care around stress and anxiety, and it is one of my favorite things to help you with. I teach marketing, but unless you get this under control, your marketing will not work for you, okay? So I want you to know that you can find relief in your life from the negative feelings you might be experiencing.
In this podcast, I’m going to do three different things. First off, I’m going to explain the difference between stress and anxiety, which helped me a ton when I learned what the difference is, so it’s going to help you too. Next, I’m going to give you some information that will help you learn to manage your mindset better as a farmer. Last, I’m going to finish up by giving you a powerful self-care exercise.
Now, as a farmer, you might feel stressed year-round. All right? I think that could be the case with a lot of us. A lot of people live in constant anxiety, but this right now is an especially good time to listen to this episode, because most of us have just finished up our busy sales season with the summer, which means income is slowing down, bank account growth is slowing down too, the holidays are coming, and winter weather is looming. So that’s why I just want to be here now giving you some tools you can put in place so you’re prepared to manage your thoughts around all of those things.
Okay. And I just want to take a minute here, and speaking of weather threats, I just got back from Illinois, where everyone was surprised it snowed in October. I taught a day long workshop there, and that morning when we all woke up there was snow on the ground, like two or three inches. It was so pretty to see, really beautiful, but of course it was October, so I think the farmers in the crowd were getting a little worried that maybe winter is on its way a little too early. And then I’m headed to New Hampshire this week, and I see a little snow flurries in the forecast there too. So just know that I love meeting you guys. I love teaching you marketing and I love teaching you how to manage your mindset so that your marketing can be successful and you could build that profitable farm. So just know that I love meeting you and hearing about the amazing things you’re doing on your farms.
But now back to the topic today. I regularly see comments and get messages and emails of all the stress that you guys are under. So the first thing I want to do is I want to explain the difference between stress and anxiety. A lot of people use those terms interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing, and knowing the difference will help you. Stress is a temporary discomfort. It’s something that pushes against you in the moment, and you handle it.
So for instance, we live way out in the country. We’re six miles from the nearest town, and we hardly ever hear sirens out here. Just maybe every couple of years. So the other day I started hearing a siren as it was coming from the distance, and then pretty soon two police cars raced by our house with their sirens blaring, and I started to get stressed. I noticed this in my body. My stress was going up. And as they drove by our house, I was thinking, “Well, what’s going on? Did someone break into somebody’s house? Or was somebody shot? What possibly could be happening?” And then as the cars raced by, the sirens started to fade in the distance, and I noticed that my stress went down and pretty soon it dissipated. So within five minutes, my stress was completely gone. So that is an example of a temporary stressor. It was here, and then within a few minutes it went away and disappeared completely.
Now, this can happen on the farm all the time. Maybe you go out to move the cows and a gate was open that wasn’t supposed to be open, and they’re in the wrong paddock. So your stress goes up when you realize that, but you fix the problem. You get the cows in the right place, you fix the gate, you put everything back like it’s supposed to be, and then your stress goes down and dissipates completely. Okay? So that’s what stress is. It’s something that pushes against you in the moment, you manage it in the moment. Maybe you fix the stressor itself or maybe you realize, like the police cars, the stressor is not really a threat, and then your emotions calm down again. Okay? So that’s what stress is.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is the constant pressure of stress that doesn’t ever get to dissipate because you’re looping on one stressful thought after another, or a group of stress inducing thoughts one after another. So maybe it’s in the morning, you get up, you get your kids ready for school, somebody’s whining, you’re packing lunches, and you’re in a rush because you’ve got people coming into your farm store, and then when the kids are getting dressed, you realize the laundry is all dirty. You don’t have what you need, and there’s a little bit of extra stress, maybe even resentment. Nobody’s helping you with the laundry, so this is on your radar.
Then you get the kids off to school and you take care of yourself, you get out to the farm store, and the first customer of the day is upset because there’s no eggs, because we’re at the time of the year where hens lay fewer eggs. The customers don’t really understand that, so you’ve got to deal with it. And then somebody asks you, “Why are your products higher priced than the grocery store?” And you have to deal with that. And then you take care of the rest of the farm chores, you get in the house, you realize you forgot to thaw meat out for dinner and causes a little stress.
So all day long, this constant pressure of these little stressful moments that never get to dissipate, they keep building on each other, they eventually turn into continual anxiety. Then what happens is pretty soon you notice you’re going to bed with anxiety, because you never got to clear it up during the day. And that means you wake up with anxiety first thing in the morning, because your thoughts naturally pick up where they left off yesterday, and you feel anxious when you wake up.
And it doesn’t have to be all these little things I mentioned about your day. Maybe it’s one big thing. For instance, I get a lot of messages from you guys and your anxiety over finances. I’ve heard people, people have emailed me and said, “Hey, I’ve got $5 left in my bank account and I don’t know what to do.” So financial anxiety is very common among farmers. Or maybe you took on some debt. You wanted to expand something, or you wanted to purchase something, so you take on the debt, but now you feel the pressure of needing to sell something right away, except there’s no orders coming in, and you just keep looping on these thoughts of your financial issues, and these looped thoughts continually going on in your head create a state of anxiety that you’re just living with day in and day out.
Now, the dangerous thing with anxiety is it can lead to inflammation in our bodies, and research shows us that inflammation is the root of all illness. So pretty soon you’re getting sick. Anxiety has been linked with heart disease, and diabetes, and infertility, but most importantly, it causes you to have increased inflammation, which opens you up to all sorts of illnesses. So you notice yourself getting sick, and if you don’t deal with it, this can lead to chronic illness, and pretty soon you may notice your kids are getting sick too. Okay? So it’s really important to know that this is where anxiety can lead us.
Or what can happen is maybe you go and do you get some medication for anxiety, which then again causes more anxiety, because most of us don’t want to have to resort to medication because of all the side effects, but you felt hopeless, so that’s where you ended up, so that’s an extra stressor. Or what can happen is you begin to self medicate. Maybe you find yourself overeating, or over drinking, or over Facebooking, or overworking, or over exercising. You’re just looking for some kind of relief, so you’re doing all these other things that can actually turn out to be harmful, and what all the things you’re doing are not working. So you just want anything you can find to relieve that anxiety, or you’re trying to mask it. Okay? Does this make sense? So anxiety is the result of when you haven’t learned how to manage the stressful thoughts you’re having about all the things in your life, or about the one big thing in your life, or the one or two or three big things, okay? So knowing the difference between stress and anxiety will be a big help for you. They aren’t interchangeable, and you do want to learn how to manage your stress so it doesn’t lead to anxiety.
All right. Next I want to talk about your self-care. It’s really important for you to realize that how you feel when you go through your da,y and how you act or how you deal with the things that are happening during your day is a direct reflection of the quality of your self-care practice, okay? So maybe it’s your off-farm job that you go out and you go to work off the farm and you’re experiencing things you don’t like there, or you’re not feeling good about it, or maybe it’s your job when you go out on the farm, there’s a lot of stress there, or maybe you’re homeschooling your kids, but it’s just important to know that how you go through your day feeling and how you manage yourself through the day, whether it’s at your job, off-farm or on farm, is directly related to your self-care practice.
Okay. So everything we do in life flows out of how well we’ve taken care of ourselves. So if I haven’t practiced my own self-care, and I haven’t worked on managing my own mind like we’re talking about here, and I go out on the farm or I go to my day job, I’m not going to do well. Now, this is really good news, despite how it sounds, because if managing yourself during your day is dependent on the things you do to care for yourself, then you can improve it or fix it.
So if you don’t like the results that you have during your days, maybe you go through your days not feeling really good, or you’re snapping at people, or you’re experiencing emotions like feeling overwhelmed, or you’re complaining a lot, or you’re blaming other people, or if you feel distracted, or desperate, or controlling even, or even competitive, all of these feelings during your day are feedback that you need to work differently on your self-care routine. But again, like I said, it’s really good news, because if managing yourself during your day is dependent on the things you do to care for yourself, then you can learn to improve it. So if you don’t like the results you’re getting during the day, it’s not the fault of anyone else or anything else. It’s feedback about how you’re taking care of yourself.
And so if now you’re wondering about moving forward, what can you do about this? Well, I’ve got some help. This self-care practice I teach here is going to be the start of your transformation in your life and business so you can start to feel better. So as farmers, I hear from you that you’re really good at focusing on the farm care, and the animal care, and caring for the land and your kids, but I notice a trend that we’re not so good at self-care. We can justify not doing self care, because we think we don’t have enough time. We put ourselves after everybody else, and after the farm work, and after the animals, but that’s not serving us.
Self-care in this case, like I’m talking about it here, means that you work on managing your thoughts and cleaning out your brain, which in turn gives you a more pleasant life. So just saying that you don’t have time for it, it’s one of those things that you don’t have time in life not to do this, because your stress-filled days leading to anxiety are not going to be sustainable longterm. And you’ve heard me say it before, hopefully on other episodes, that our thoughts create our feelings. Brain research has shown us this. So if we learn to manage our thoughts, we’re then in turn choosing to manage our feelings, and then you notice you’ll feel better about your days all day long.
So our self-care practice includes this kind of thought management that I’m talking about here, but it also comes in the form of taking a look at your whole life holistically, such as food, and exercise, and sleep. And it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. It’s just increasing your awareness in those areas. So a lot of us know that we should be eating better, we should be eating healthfully, and we also know there are things we’re not supposed to be eating, such as processed food, and drinks, and things like that. So it’s important you really pay attention to how you eat every single day, and pay attention to your sleep. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep that you wake up feeling rested, and know that the thought management exercises I have for you will help you with your anxiety so you can get better sleep. Also, make sure you’re exercising enough. You need to have some movement every day, and look at how you’re maintaining your relationships.
Okay, so when you do all this, when you really take a look at yourself holistically, you know that all the different parts of yourself and what you’re doing to take care of all these different parts are in line, because all of these different parts affect each other. Like if your mind isn’t managed, then your sleep isn’t good, and if your sleep isn’t good, then you may have headaches, or stomach issues, or other physical symptoms. Then when you don’t feel good physically, you have relationship issues. Maybe you’re yelling at the kids, or you’re snapping at employees or your spouse. No one wants to live life this way. But this is how important self-care is, because it can lead to a really dismal view of life if you’re not taking care of yourself, or it can lead to a really fantastic life when you learn to incorporate this practice into your day. Okay?
And this kind of self-care needs to be a daily practice. Self-care doesn’t mean that you take a walk once in a while, or you take a yoga class once in a while, or maybe you have a manicure once in a while. It’s this consistent daily practice of learning to manage your mind and take care of all those different parts of your life. And when you learn to do this every single day, especially first thing in the morning, as I teach you is the best time to do it, the rest of your life will fall into place.
Okay. So far we’ve talked about the difference between stress and anxiety and we’ve talked about self-care and how important it is to do that every day. And the next thing I want you to remember is that as farmers, there are extra stressors in this career we’ve chosen, and it’s important we remember that we signed up for this career of farming, and we signed up for this career that has a lot more stress than many other people’s careers, okay? Sometimes people think stressful things should not be happening on their farms, but that’s the nature of the career and the lifestyle we signed up for. And when you can learn to accept that, and embrace that, and stop thinking that it should be different, you will start to feel better.
Well, for one thing, farming is a dangerous job. You can get hurt. People get killed. I broke my ankle a couple of years ago, June 1, just at the start of the busy summer season. Well, that’s a lot of added stress when everyone else had to step up and do my work. So accidents are more prevalent in a farm career than most any other job, so it’s just important to remember that you signed up for this career with extra added stressors. And it’s not like you’re going to an office in a 68 degree temperature room with a guaranteed paycheck. If there’s one thing we know about farming, it’s that it’s not a guaranteed paycheck. So again, just recognizing this and accepting this will help reduce your stress.
A lot of people come to me for one on one appointments and they’re upset about the things that are going on with the weather, or on their farm, and when they start to realize that they chose this career full of extra stressors, it can help them be motivated to manage their mind better, all right? Now sometimes these stressors, we can predict that they’re going to happen someday. Like, we can expect a flood at certain points of the year, or snowfall at certain points of the year, or animals will die someday, but we just don’t know when. Therefore, it’s important that you accept that you made the choice of this career with a lot of extra stress in it, and because of this decision, the self-care piece of this should be a mandatory part of your routine as a farmer.
Now, when my one on one clients come to me, sometimes they feel like these things are happening to them, which feeling like the bad weather’s happening to you, or the sick animals, or the employees showing up late, this makes you feel like a victim, which makes you feel helpless and makes you feel like you can’t fix it, and you can’t help yourself if that’s the way you’re thinking. So accepting that these stressors are a part of the job we signed up for and deciding that you’re going to learn to manage your thoughts around that is key in being a farmer who’s balanced, versus suffering from a lot of anxiety.
Now, okay, last part of this. I want to teach you an exercise that will help you do this. You’re going to learn how to separate the facts from your own thoughts, and you’re going to raise awareness about your thoughts. Now, facts are just facts. They’re neutral circumstances happening in the world that can’t cause you stress, or anxiety, or anger, or resentment, okay? These facts might be people, or they might be the weather. Maybe it hasn’t rained in six months, but these are just facts. They’re just neutral facts that are happening in your life. The key, though, is how you choose to think about that circumstance or that fact is going to determine whether you feel competent and confident to manage it and deal with it, or whether you feel full of stress, leading to anxiety and not so pleasant days. All right? This is the key difference between the people I work with who go on to have successful lives and farms versus those who suffer. It’s you recognizing that facts and circumstances and people are all around us, and you have the choice of how you think about the facts or circumstances.
Now, I’ve said on other episodes that research now shows us that our thoughts determine our feelings, not the outside facts and outside circumstance or people in our lives, okay? It’s your thoughts that you have about those facts or the people that create the feeling inside of you. So I’m going to teach you this exercise I use to determine the facts versus my thoughts, and it’s something I do every single morning. I manage my mind by getting up, and this is a big part of my self-care routine, I get up an hour before my daughter gets up and I have some quiet time, before I look at my phone, I don’t check email, I don’t do anything else. It’s the first thing I do in the day, and I want you to just consider, I want to encourage you or even challenge you to make this part of your practice too.
So this exercise will be the start of your self-coaching practice and the start of your self-care. You’re going to do what I call a thought download, or maybe you call it a brain dump, or a mind clean-out. Whatever you want to call it, you’re teaching yourself to be really aware of your thoughts so you become aware that you have control of how you feel. So get up early in the morning, go to a private chair somewhere where no one can bother you, grab a notebook, and start writing down every single thought that’s going on in your head, okay? Just write them down. Don’t judge them. You’re not going to judge them. No, that’s not fair. You can’t do that. You’re just going to start writing them down.
Now, you might be having judgmental thoughts, like for instance, Thanksgiving’s coming and you’re thinking, “Do we really have to invite that crazy guy who drinks too much and then makes comments that pisses everyone off? Does he have to be there?” Well, if that’s the thought in your head, write it down. Okay? This is an awareness exercises. It’s teaching you to take a look inside your mind to figure out what’s causing you to feel a certain way. So just keep writing down all your thoughts.
Maybe there’s some to-dos on there. Like my list this morning, I forgot to order hay last week. So that’s what I’m thinking about. It’s swirling through my mind. Or maybe there’s other things you’re worried about that you’re going to write down. Maybe there’s questions you need to ask or people you need to check in on. Write down everything in your mind you can think of, and just keep writing until you empty your mind and you get it all out. It could take 10 minutes, it might take 20 minutes, might even take longer the first time. Okay, so now that you’ve done this, I want you to notice how just the simple act of writing everything down and emptying out your brain can bring noticeable and immediate relief. I hope you can experience that. All right?
So now the next part of this, once you’ve gotten everything written down, is I want you to go back through those thoughts, and you’re going to circle all the worries that you wrote down. You can circle them, or you can highlight them if you have a highlighter. All right? So reread the list and then highlight or circle all the things you’re worrying about, all those thoughts you wrote down that are actually worries, and I mean any little worry at all, even if it’s fits a little nagging thing you’re not aware of, okay? Because every little nagging worry that you have, like me forgetting to order hay last week means I’m worrying about it this week.
All these little things floating around our mind that are worries, they cause this little mini fight or flight response. And we aren’t always aware of it because it’s a small little anxiety, okay? Or a small little stressor, but it is these low grade little stressors that are dangerous and lead to that consistent anxiety. And the fact that you have them swirling in your head all the time, you’ve taught yourself to live with them, which is a huge cost to your health, all right? The chemical changes in your body as a result of all these little worries will make you sick, all right? We’ve been shown that by scientists over and over again. So the first step here is to write down all your thoughts, and then highlight the ones which are worries.
Now the next step is you go back and you look at each worry that you highlighted or circled, and I want you to ask yourself, “Will worrying change this thing?” Worrying is one of those emotions that pretends to be necessary, but it’s not. There’s really no upside or benefit to this constant worrying, okay? And that could be you obsessing over some future thing that may or may not happen, or something that happened in the past. Worrying about it won’t fix it, and it steals your present moment away from you, so then you’ve sacrificed your wellbeing. So really take a look and ask if worrying will change that thing.
Okay. Now there’s a difference between awareness and worry. We want to be aware of our problems, all right? So without awareness, we wouldn’t be able to address the problem when needed. But worrying about it, constantly thinking about it over and over again is not productive. It gives our minds something to do, which can be deceptive because we think we’re doing something by obsessing over this thing. We feel like we’re doing something by worrying, almost like we’re paying our dues sometimes, but in reality, worrying gets us nowhere. And in the process, those worries add significantly to our cognitive load and can lead to anxiety.
So right now take a look at the worries you’ve highlighted and ask, “Will anything change by me worrying about these?” And decide to stop. This awareness of these worries can inspire you to make corrections, or just decide that you’re going to stop thinking about it over and over, or decide to take action. If it’s something you’re worried about that you could actually take action on, take care of it so you stop worrying about it. But worry for the sake of worrying will only leave you sick and more likely than not lead to a state of depression too.
All right. Now let’s get to the last step in this thought download. It’s powerful, and it’s going to offer you some clarity and some relief, okay? So I want you to go back and look at all the thoughts you wrote down, the ones that are left, and notice, are there things on there you can delegate to someone else? Maybe there’s something on there you need to just assign to your kids or your spouse or an employee, or hire something done. One of the best things I ever did was hire a house cleaner to come every two weeks and that just took … It seems like nothing was ever clean in the house at once, so I always had a big list of things that had to be clean. Well, that took a ton of worries off my list. Just that one thing. So what things can you delegate to someone else or hire done?
Now I want you to take a look at, what things can you say no to and eliminate? So really be strict with yourself on this. I was coaching someone the other day who has three small children, and she’s on two boards for nonprofits, volunteer positions, and she was under so much stress and anxiety, and was constantly dealing with illness, and she recognized that she needed to eliminate being on those boards. She needed to resign from those positions, because right now in her life, her kids were her priority. So those things, when you get asked to be on a board, it can be a compliment, it can be an honor and hard to say no to, but it can also be one of those added stressors in your life that are going to lead you down the path to anxiety and illness. So take a look again at your list. Be really strict with yourself. What do you need to say no to? What do you need to eliminate? All of these to-dos, they’re just swirling around in your head, but when you really look at them closely, are they as necessary as you thought?
All right, now the next thing to do with your list, if there were thoughts that you wrote down which are actual to-dos that only you can do, then pull out your calendar and schedule them so you can stop worrying about them. Put them on the calendar. I had to call the IRS, because they got one of my numbers was wrong, and I couldn’t figure out the problem, and I knew that calling the IRS required about a 20 minute hold time, because I called them once and that’s what the recording said, so I hung up, and instead of putting it on my calendar and scheduling time where I could sit down and have 30 minutes to call the IRS, I just kept thinking about it every day. I realized I thought about this for probably three weeks. Every day I would wake up thinking, “I need to call the IRS.” And then finally it occurred to me, “Hello, write it down on your calendar. Schedule a 30 minute time block and write down, ‘Call the IRS.'”
So I know there are things in your head, maybe phone calls you have to make or errands you need to run that you haven’t written down, so they keep swirling in your head, so just schedule them. Get them out of your head, clear up some space, okay? This is a huge part of your self-care, creating some white space in your mind. Now, when I work with clients one on one, some of their biggest results come from this one exercise. They find out that when they clear their thoughts out and they address them, and they stop looping on stressful thoughts, they have so much more energy and clarity, and then things really start to change for better in their life and their business.
Okay. Now, the very last thing is things that you need to address. So maybe you wrote down some things, like last year, I found myself looping on this one thought about … I had this one employee, four employees, one of them was 10 minutes late every single day, and that bugged the heck out of me, because in a week that’s almost an hour that she’s getting paid for and not there. Okay? And I had talked to her about it once, it got better for a bit, and then it started happening again. So it kept looping in my mind, because I knew I needed to make it a more serious talk, and I just kept looping on it and thinking about it and stressing over it. And so when I do my thought download, it made me aware that, “I need to address this so that I can stop looping on it every day.” So in my practice of doing my thought downloads, you can become aware of these reoccurring thoughts that you need to address.
Okay, you guys. That is the self-care practice. It’s really going to help you start off your day right. It’s going to make you more and more aware. As you go through your day, you will notice, you’ll catch yourself, are you thinking thoughts that are creating emotions that you want to have and that are helpful? Or are you thinking thoughts that are creating stress and anxiety? This exercise will make you more aware of those so you can be more intentional about the thoughts you choose.
And if you want one on one help with this, I take on about 10 private clients at a time, one on one, helping guide and really coaching them on building a productive mindset that’s going to help them build that profitable farm. So if you want more information on that that helps skyrocket your growth in that area, you can read all about that at 3cowmarketing.com/workwithme. You can book a consult right there or send me an email if you have questions about it, okay?
You guys, this has been really great. I hope this process is as helpful for you as it is for me and others that I work with. I’ve been doing this process for about 20 years, and it has cleaned up my life tremendously, and I want the same for you too, okay? Your days should be really full of well-being and excitement and clarity and focus and love, all that good stuff. That’s what I want for you. This practice is going to help you get there. Okay, take care, you guys, and I will see you next time.
Thank you so much for tuning in to today’s episode. For more great resources, check out theprofitablemindset.com. See you next time.