How My Experience as a Farmer is Helping Me Cope with This Covid-19 Situation

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Up until now, it’s been business as usual on the msfitfarmer blog.

I’ve hesitated to write about the COVID-19 pandemic that is crippling our world, because, in truth, I’ve wanted this blog to remain a bright spot in my reader’s day rather than serve as yet another reminder of the hardship that we are all facing.

Let’s face it:

Your life right now likely looks (and feels) drastically different than it did just four short weeks ago.

With so much news coverage and talk of the situation on social media, I know how overwhelming it can be to take it all in.

And so, I’ve avoided talking about COVID-19 because I didn’t want to add to the overwhelm. 

COVID-19 is, undoubtedly, an unnerving threat. It has claimed the lives of so many people, and forced financial hardship on many families.

It’s crushing to think about not only the lives lost, but also the celebrations that have been put on hold, the plans that have been canceled, and all the dreams that have been altered.

And the reality is:

We’re all dealing with the uncertainty of this stressful time in different ways. 

While I am far from an expert in this situation, I thought it might be helpful to share how my experience as a farmer is helping me navigate this difficult season that we’re in right now. 

Let me be clear: I’m NOT sharing my perspective to downplay the gravity of this coronavirus situation. I’m simply sharing what I know in hopes that it brings comfort to someone that needs it.

If I’m being honest, this pandemic feels like something straight out of a Hollywood Sci-Fi movie. 

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined a situation where the world shuts down and we’d all be forced into self isolation…

While I’m operating under the same fear and uncertainty as many of you are right now, here’s what almost twenty years of farming has taught me about surviving hard times:

1.This Season is Temporary:

I’ve been farming for nearly two-thirds of my life- which feels a little weird to say. In that time, I’ve endured some rather difficult seasons.

  • There was that time back in 2009 when the economy tanked, milk prices plummeted and many farmers were forced out of business.
  • There were times when droughts threatened our harvests and floods made planting seasons nearly impossible.
  • And there was that one time I was faced with the unimaginable grief of losing my favorite farm buddy (Molly, our 12 yr-old black lab).

In each of those moments, life presented challenges that I never thought I’d make it through. And much to my surprise, not only did I make it through, but I made it to the other side more resilient than before.

Understandably we are all feeling a little afraid right now. 

But I encourage you to remember that life will always throw us challenges (sometimes bigger challenges than we think we can handle), but the good news is that pain eventually fades + gives way to more joyful moments. 

So brace yourself to weather this very difficult storm that we are in, but know that this hardship is giving you the strength to take on new challenges in the future. 

Nothing is forever. And this too shall pass.

2. Your Perspective Matters:

Reality‘ is a funny thing…

We often view it as though it’s black and white. 

But let me tell you:

Your experience during this difficult season is based largely on how you perceive it. 

>>> When you allow your mind to cling to all the negative that’s happening around you, you lose sight of the all the blessings that still exist.

Now to be clear: choosing to see the good in all that’s happening around us doesn’t change the situation – it doesn’t magically make the ‘bad’ go away, BUT what it does do is change the way in which we experience this season of life. 

When you can reframe what’s going on in your life and put a positive spin on it, you learn that it’s possible to weather this storm without feeling miserable.

For me, the things I took for granted just a month ago are the same things that I count as blessings today amidst all that’s currently going on in the world:

  • Not that long ago I complained about my 7-day-a-week work week
  • I hated how tied to the farm I felt + I wanted nothing more than a change of scenery. 
  • And today I couldn’t be more thankful for a job that I can walk to, a job that I feel safe completing because of how naturally isolated we are, and the fact that I can still work because agriculture is  ‘essential’ to our community.  

So my question to you is: What’s one thing  that you’ve been viewing negatively in this season that you can change your perspective on?

Can you use the extra time at home to pursue something that you’ve been putting off? Is this time with loved ones allowing you the chance to strengthen your relationships?

Only when you shift your view, will you realize that the things you’re looking at can change.

3. Take It One Day at a Time:

One of my favorite quotes is from Audrey Hepburn, when she said: ” to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”.

I love the sentiment behind these words. The idea that the seeds you sow today will one day blossom into something both beautiful and meaningful.

And I think these words also serve as a great reminder to not get ahead of ourselves, that while better days are ahead, we still have to take things as them come.

As farmers, we plant in anticipation of a abundant harvest knowing full well that we will have to deal with difficulties along the way.

Each planting season brings with it a new set of obstacles that we are forced to face- and yet we willingly face them because we know what is waiting for us on the other side of these obstacles.

As we all are hunkering down during this pandemic, we will likely face more setbacks before our circumstances get better.

But during this time, I encourage you to take these challenges one day at a time.

You don’t have to face every hardship of this season all at once.

Just focus on one day at a time. Have faith that tomorrow will be better- and eventually you will be rewarded with your own sweet harvest.

4. Gratitude Will Keep You Grounded:

If you’re an overthinker like me, your mind is likely working overtime right now. 

There is so much information to try and take in- it can be a lot to handle!

Your mind may be spiraling through a long list of what if. And you may be feeling anxious as a result.

You may even be feeling a little bit of regret as you run through everything that you wish you would have done to better prepare for this difficult season- like bought more toilet paper, kept more money in your savings account, etc. 

Those feelings are normal. We’re all human after all.

But the one thing that I’ve learned in times of struggle is that if we let our emotions dictate our narrative, we’ll be in trouble every time.

It may feel unnatural to seek out out positive emotion when there is so much uneasiness happening in the world, but actively seeking moments of gratitude is one of the best ways to connect to the good that is happening right now, here in this moment.

My encouragement is that you take the time to list a few things for which you’re thankful for during this rough season.

I hope you to find the lessons in what this season is teaching you whether it’s to slow down, to be grateful for the company of friends and family, or to just enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

And as you focus on the good, I think you’ll be amazed by how much the good multiplies.

5. Control What You Can (And Let Go of Everything Else)

In a world that feels out of control, it’s easy to feel like a victim of our circumstances.

Our emotions can easily get the best of us. And it’s common to blame others for what is going on in our lives.

We blame the government for the shutdowns; we blame panicked shoppers for the shortage of toilet paper; we blame the weather for keeping us cooped up inside… 

And while playing the blame game may make us feel better momentarily, what it ultimately does is rob us of our power to change what is happening to us. 

You see, there are always going to be things in life that we can’t control. Trying to take control of those situations won’t make life better.

So instead, choose to focus on the things that you CAN control. 

When you put your energy into the things you can control, you’ll be much more effective.

Let me give you an example:

As a farmer, I may not be able to to control the weather (that’s simply a fact). I can’t prevent a storm from coming, but I CAN prepare it.

Knowing that I’ve done everything in my power to brace for the storm ahead helps ease my fears and gives me the satisfaction of knowing that I’m ready for whatever may come.

Conclusion

I’d like to remind you that there is no ‘right’ way to deal with the situation at hand. 

We all process hard times differently- there’s no shame in that!

What I’d love more than anything is to hear your advice on how to deal with the uncertainty that this pandemic is creating. 

What’s one piece of advice you can share to help someone navigate this difficult season? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. I can’t wait to read them!

Here to support you, 

XO- Britney (@ms.fit.farmer)

__________

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Britney Zondlak

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I'm Britney,

Just a small-town gal with a passion for fitness + health- Using my little corner of the Internet to spread light and positive vibes. It is my mission to encourage all women to step into the best-version of themselves possible. After all- you deserve it, girl!

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