Top Six Ways Love + Companionship Can Help Your Mental Wellbeing
Thursday, October 10th, 2019
Today is World Mental Health Day, and to mark the occasion we’re looking at how love and companionship can be crucial for your mental health and wellbeing. Within the UK farming community this is especially important. Very sadly, according to research by the Farm Safety Foundation, one farmer a week in the UK takes their own life. Furthermore, their research indicated that 80% of young farmers (under 40) believe that mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today. Of these, 92% thought that promoting good mental health is crucial for lives to be saved.
There are many factors which affect mental health but within the farming community, the Farm Safety Foundation have identified four key factors: long hours, often in isolation; significant financial pressure (in addition, juggling loans and debts); a farmer’s place of business is also their home; and the pressure of unusual and unexpected events and circumstances that can impact the bottom line (think weather, natural disasters and international trade disputes). The feeling of isolation and long hours spent working alone, taking pressure and hard physical work single-handedly, is one which is incredibly important and an issue that we at Muddy Matches are passionate about. After all, we have dedicated the past ten years to helping people in the countryside meet each other to find love and companionship.
So, how can love and companionship help your mental health? Below are six crucial ways in which being part of a community or having a romantic relationship can boost your mental wellbeing.
Did you know that the physical act of a kind and warm touch lowers blood pressure and releases oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’? Scientific studies indicate that ‘touch’ is a form of nonverbal communication, and can be interpreted as an indicator of so many emotions and sensations; love, compassion, sympathy, tenderness, anger, gratitude, happiness and fear, to name just a few. As babies, touch is the first of the senses that we develop, and is key in terms of physical, emotional and health. But as adults we tend to loose this instinctive, important physical act and become more closed and reserved. Being around other people and forming connections, which comprise not only verbal exchanges but physical exchanges, is so important for us to feel safe, loved, valued and secure – all sensations which contribute to positive mental health.
2. A sense of belonging
According to the Mental Health Foundation, forming deep and stable relationships with other people is essential to good mental wellbeing. It doesn’t matter whether you have a huge group of acquaintances, a steady relationship or a few close and trusted friends, what matters is the quality of your connections. Yes, we are in contact with others electronically all day, every day, but people who are socially connected (that is, engaging in face to face conversations) with family, friends and their community are happier, physically healthier and live longer. In addition, they experience fewer mental health problems than those who are less well connected. So, feeling as if you belong in a community or supportive network is key. Finding like-minded people on Muddy Matches is a great way to form a deep connection with someone who understands your background and the day-to-day pressures you face.
3. Sharing the load + stress management
For those people working the land by themselves, spending long hours in isolation, becoming introverted and worrying over issues by yourself is very common. Having a ‘sounding board’, someone with whom you can chat over issues, get them out of your head and give and receive advice from, is essential to help you de-stress, work through problems and feel mentally supported. Having a partner or a supportive network can also help you feel less ‘alone’.
4. Taking time out
For farmers and country people who live where they work, getting away from the pressures of business can be very, very hard. Leaving the farm behind may be practically impossible, meaning that you can never fully ‘shut off’ from work and your mind never gets a break. Furthermore, many people feel a sense of guilt at taking a bit of time out. Creating new friendships and relationships can be key to giving yourself the headspace you need to restore and nourish. So, having someone to meet in the evenings, even if that’s just a quick drink, is a great reason to step back for a while and take time out.
5. A shared experience
We all know that sharing an experience can massively heighten the pleasure you get out of it. It’s all very well treating yourself to an evening in the pub or a spa afternoon, but how much more would you enjoy it if you were sharing it with someone? Again, it’s all about a sense of connection and belonging. Making memories with someone else gives you the opportunity to bond and, as research from Brigham Young University shows, those who shared positive experiences with others felt happier, claimed their life was more meaningful, and reported greater life satisfaction. Now if that’s not a reason to plan a countryside date, then we don’t know what is.
6. A message of support
When you’re under pressure to get all the farm jobs done, feed the livestock, balance the books and keep your machinery in working order, having the time to go on a date or catch up over coffee can seem impossible. But knowing that someone is thinking about you can make all the difference. That little ping on Whatsapp when someone sends you a message of support, the joy of receiving a hand-written card, the sense of value you get when you see a friend’s name flash up on phone… these all make you feel part of something bigger, that someone cares for you, and this sensation is priceless to helping you feel supported, loved and valued.