Mental health is a growing concern for American farmers. These workers are at an increased risk of developing stress-related health issues, and they’re also more likely to commit suicide than the average citizen. In honor of this year’s National Farm Safety and Health Week (September 15 to 21), here’s some important information about the issue.
Mental health issues increase the likelihood of injuries and fatal accidents in an already dangerous workplace. Here are some of the factors that put farmers at risk.
• Long hours. Farmers are often forced to work long hours, leading to poor sleep hygiene. Lack of rest often exacerbates stress in addition to disrupting the ability to focus.
• Uncertainty. Farmers are at the mercy of increasingly unpredictable weather. In addition, fluctuating commodity prices mean that even a strong harvest doesn’t guarantee a profit will be made.
Financial uncertainty is becoming a big problem. The USDA reports that the U.S. farm debt relative to income is the highest it’s been in three decades.
• Lack of resources. Farmers need help, but there’s a lack of accessible resources. In addition, they’re unlikely to seek out the help they need, in part because of the stigma attached to mental health issues in the farming community.
While there are resources available like Farm Aid’s hotline — it saw a 109 percent increase in call volume in 2018 — there isn’t enough funding to provide concrete help to farmers.
What can be done
Awareness campaigns have sought to change the mindset around mental health in farming communities. Eliminating the stigma attached to asking for help is an important step in improving the situation. Public education about the challenges farmers face could also help raise awareness about the importance of this issue.
If you or someone you know is facing a crisis, visit the National Farmers Union Crisis Center at farmcrisis.nfu.org.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you or someone you know is in distress, call 1-800-273-8255.
5 foods that are good for your eyes
As you get older, you become more likely to develop certain age-related eye conditions. However, eating a nutrient-rich diet can prevent or mitigate changes to your vision. Here are some foods that are believed to be good for your eyes.
1. Nuts and seeds
Chia seeds and walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E. These nutrients help protect your eyes from inflammation and decrease the risk of elevated eye pressure and glaucoma.
2. Citrus fruits
Grapefruits, oranges, and lemons are high in vitamin C, which helps strengthen the blood vessels in your eyes and reduces your risk of developing cataracts.
3. Leafy greens
Lettuce, spinach, and kale are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that can help protect against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Salmon, mackerel, and sea bass contain DHA and EPA, two fatty acids that help keep the retina healthy.
5. Orange vegetables
Sweet potatoes and carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which helps keep the surface of your eyes hydrated and healthy. It also reduces oxidative stress caused by blue and UV lights.
Your vision and eye health affect your physical and mental well-being. Consequently, taking good care of your eyes is a key component of living a long and healthy life.
How to prevent digital eye strain
If you’re experiencing dry eyes, headaches, or blurry vision, digital eye strain may be to blame. Here are five things that can help alleviate the effects of frequently looking at your computer, tablet, or phone screen.
1. Follow the 20/20/20 rule
Look up from your screen every 20 minutes and focus on something approximately 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This short break will give your eyes the needed rest to relax, refocus and reset.
2. Change your settings
If your job makes it impossible to avoid looking at a screen all day, try using a larger font size. Additionally, you can increase the contrast, sharpness, and brightness of your screen.
3. Adjust the lighting
Glare from the sun or overhead lights can cause your eyes to work overtime. Try dimming the lights in the room, closing the blinds, or installing an anti-glare filter.
4. Improve your posture
Bad posture can intensify digital eye strain. Avoid slumping over, craning your neck, or looking down at your screen for long periods of time.
5. Schedule regular eye exams
An optometrist can ensure that your uncorrected vision problems are addressed. Plus, they can provide professional advice on how to keep your eyes healthy.
Though digital eye strain is unlikely to lead to permanent damage, it can be uncomfortable. Taking precautions will help minimize difficulties with your vision and eye health.
Naps by duration: what you should know
Do you have days when it feels like a nap is just what you need to restore your energy and boost your mood? While a quick rest can provide these benefits, napping for the right amount of time is key. Here’s what you should know.
Five to 10 minutes
The brief moment of relaxation offered by a nap of this duration can slightly improve your attention span. Even just closing your eyes and breathing deeply for a few minutes can help reduce stress.
10 to 20 minutes
This is widely considered the ideal amount of time for a nap. It’ll leave you feeling refreshed and more alert, which can improve your concentration and productivity. To ensure this nap is restorative, set an alarm to prevent you from sleeping for too long.
A nap of this duration can actually make you feel more tired. Your body has enough time to enter a deep sleep but not enough to complete a full sleep cycle. This causes sleep inertia, which can leave you feeling sluggish and groggy for up to an hour after you wake up.
Although an hour-long nap can leave you feeling drowsy when you wake up, it can also enhance your performance of memory-related tasks. Additionally, it may provide you with enough deep sleep to boost your capacity to learn.
Since you have time to complete a full sleep cycle, a nap of this duration is easier to wake up from than a 30- or 60-minute one. It promotes creativity, alertness, memory, and concentration. While not recommended for people with insomnia, a 90-minute nap can help make up for a short or sleepless night.
If you have trouble sleeping or often feel exhausted, speak with your doctor right away. This will help you avoid the onset of related health problems.
4 apps to track your menstrual cycle
Are you looking for a simple way to keep track of your period? If you want to know when you’re ovulating or avoid being caught off guard without a tampon, here are four useful applications that might be right for you.
This app uses daily reminders to help track your menstrual cycle and provides science-based predictions about your next period and fertility window. You can also use the app to track information such as your sleep schedule and PMS symptoms to better understand how your body works. Available for Android and iOS.
In addition to tracking your menstrual cycle, this app offers ovulation predictions, a comprehensive pregnancy guide, and resources on a wide range of topics such as sleep, nutrition, and skincare. You also have the option to receive reminders to take your birth control pill. Available for Android and iOS.
3. Menstrual Period Tracker
This minimalist app by Efrac uses a standard calendar format to record your menstrual cycle history, make predictions about your periods and track up to four symptoms. You can also add notes about your flow, birth control, and mood. Available for iOS.
More than just a period tracker, this app allows you to log PMS symptoms and chart your fertility. You’ll also have access to reproductive health resources and an online forum. Additionally, this inclusive platform provides information and support for trans men who have a menstrual cycle. Available for Android and iOS.
Regardless of which app you use, there are numerous benefits to keeping an accurate record of your menstrual cycle. Among other things, you can gain a better understanding of your body’s patterns as well as your mood, sex drive, fertility, and overall health.
Too good to be true: Choosing the most effective sunscreens
Beauty fanatics called it a holy grail product HG for short. It layered beautifully under makeup, moisturized the skin, and didn’t cause acne breakouts. And according to Vogue Magazine, the manufacturer self-reported an unbelievable SPF of 84.5. The product was a South Korean sunscreen, Centella Green Level Unscented Sun SPF50+, by South Korean cosmetics company Purito.
The product rode the wave of popularity recently enjoyed by Korean beauty products in the United States to become a beloved favorite among social media influencers.
But there was a catch. It turned out that instead of SPF 84.5, the sunscreen was no higher than SPF 19, according to Cosmetics Business. And according to New York Magazine, overstated SPF levels is not new or uncommon. One Consumer Reports study found that 36 out of 53 sunscreens tested failed to live up to their SPF promises.
So all of this begs the question: How do consumers identify products they can trust to protect the health of their skin?
According to New York Magazine, the best way to ensure that sunscreen works the way you think it will protect your skin is to make sure it’s FDA-approved. To do that, look up the product’s name or NDC number (a ten-digit code) on NDClist.com. Inclusion on this list verifies that the manufacturer has conducted FDA-compliant testing.
You can also simply look at the label. Every sunscreen should be labeled with a drug facts box that lists the active ingredients and percentages. As cosmetic chemist David Petrillo told New York Magazine, one easy way to pick the best protection between two sunscreens with the same SPF is to choose the formula with the higher percentages of active ingredients.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, everyone should use sunscreens that offer broad-spectrum protection with SPF 30 or higher. Water-resistance is also recommended.
How to connect with your emotions
The fast pace of daily life can make it easy to brush feelings aside rather than reflect on them. And yet, the process of connecting with your emotions is crucial to your mental well-being. Here’s some advice that can help you get in touch with your feelings.
Learn to accept them
It’s important not to distract yourself from difficult emotions. Instead, you should aim to become more at ease with them. If you want to learn to accept your feelings, both positive and negative, you need to find a way to embrace rather than resist your emotions.
Identify them with words
Pay attention to your body and attempt to identify how you feel physically and mentally. Is there tightness in your throat, tension in your temples, or heaviness in your gut? Are you feeling angry, anxious, or sad? Putting your emotions into words, out loud or in a journal, will allow you to better understand them.
Recognize their impermanence
Accepting your emotions isn’t the same thing as resigning yourself to them. Remember that all feelings are temporary, and even the most powerful emotions will fade with time.
If you’re struggling with your emotions, keep in mind that speaking with a friend, family member or mental health professional can help you sort through them.