To mark Mental Health Awareness week, Taranaki dairy farmer Kane Brisco joined a recent DairyNZ podcast to share some timely advice on how farmers could take care of themselves.

Kane says he went through some challenging times as a sharemilker but he turned things around and rekindled his passion for farming, and life, by making some simple changes to his lifestyle and approach to dealing with stress.

Taranaki farmer Kane Brisco uses on-farm equipment like fence posts as part of his workout routine to keep physically and mentally fit.

“It got to a point where I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. I lost my passion for farming, and got close to walking away from it.”

DairyNZ general manager farm performance Sarah Speight says Kane’s advice is particularly timely for dairy farm teams, as they’ve just come through the busiest period of the farming year – calving.

“Taking time out is particularly important for both farm owners and staff in the short gap between finishing calving and the start of mating,” says Sarah.

“Finding out what your staff want to achieve – both personally and professionally – and considering how you can support them is also key to making your staff feel happy and valued. For example, if they love sport can you support them by adjusting your roster so they can attend practice and games.”

Kane’s tips to improve your condition score

Get fit
Kane rebuilt his love for farming by starting boxing. Today, he has an on-farm gym and uses farm equipment like tractor tyres and fence posts as part of his fitness routine.  

Staying fit helps him cope with the physical and mental challenges he faces day-to-day. “Whether it's crossfit, running or pilates, you’ll find your passion,” he says.

Eat well
Farmers know that ensuring their cows are getting the right nutrition is crucial to achieving good body condition and being highly productive. The same goes for you too!

Kane says eating well was the next key step he took after getting fit to help him stay well.

Take time out
“Time out with the family to do things you enjoy, and getting off the farm, is really important to relax,” says Kane.

“Balancing commitments to the farm, family and yourself isn’t easy, and you have to keep working at it.”

Reframe how you see challenges
Kane says how we react and deal with challenges has a big impact on stress levels.

“Instead of getting angry when something doesn’t go the way I want it to, I think about what I want to achieve longer-term and then can break down how I want to get there.

That means you switch from thinking negatively to problem-solving and developing constructive ideas.”

It’s ok to say you’re not ok
Kane encourages farm owners and managers to be open about the pressures they feel.

“Sharing how you’re feeling encourages other people in the farm team to speak up when they’re feeling stressed. That helps everyone better address issues when they come up.”

For more tips on staying well, and to listen to Kane's podcast, visit www.dairynz.co.nz/wellbeing 

Media contact
Allanah Jarman
Senior media specialist
021 240 6614

Page last updated:

28 Sep 2022


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