WITH the farming fraternity at long last experiencing some decent weather after a relentless slog wading through wet and windy conditions, it’s good to see smiles on faces and renewed optimism as farmers go about their daily business with a spring in their step.

Getting on top of things on the farm might also give many farmers the chance to think about a much-needed day out with friends or family. Of course, show season is in full swing and wherever you are in the country, there’s one for you – notwithstanding the daddy of them all, the Royal Highland Show, at Ingliston in June.

Shows present annual meeting-up opportunities, a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues, get the whole family together and meet new people. Importantly, they offer you some respite away from the farm – a change of scenery, an occasion to take in new sights, sounds and smells, and perhaps do some business in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.

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All of this is good from a mental health perspective – something farming folk are increasingly talking about given the nature of the job and how isolating it can be at times. Worries can pile up when you spend a lot of time on your own and there so many things to think about – from concerns about the weather to sheep worrying to finding good staff.

Of course, even just a walk and a chat with a friend can be hugely beneficial – and there’s a series of Walk & Talk events scheduled over the summer that are free to attend and open to anyone farming or crofting in Scotland and their family.

Run by wellbeing programme Farmstrong Scotland, and hosted by farmers and crofters across the country, there are four events already organised: Scalpsie Farm, Isle of Bute (June 12); Poldean Farm, Moffat (July 17); Wester Braikie Farm, Arbroath (July 23); and Cluny Farm, Forres (August 23).

Supported by a donation from the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust, the events will provide an insight into a farming or crofting business through a tour, while highlighting the benefits of taking time away to connect, learn and socialise. There’s also an opportunity to be inspired by speakers and enjoy some food.

Speaking when the events were announced earlier this month, Alix Ritchie, Farmstrong Scotland programme director commented: “Farmstrong is very much about peer-to-peer support and sharing stories from those working within our sector. There is no better way to learn from each other than in person and there will be an opportunity to chat to other farmers and crofters as we walk and share a meal together.”

Meanwhile, at RSABI, chief executive Carol McLaren is also quick to point out the benefits of show season and other events such as Scotsheep, taking place this year at Aikengall Farm, East Lothian on June 5.

“We’ve made a couple of new videos – one with comedian Jim Smith and the other with James Hamilton from Aikengall on exactly this theme. It’s so important to get away from the farm and what James, in particular, is saying is that even if you don’t think you can afford the time well, actually, you can,” she says.

“Taking time for yourself like that can make a world of difference not just to your personal health and wellbeing but also from a business perspective. If you’re fit and healthy, and your mental health is in a good space, then that’s good for your business.”

RSABI, of course, offers free practical, financial, and emotional support including counselling services. Its free and confidential support service is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year, by calling 0808 1234 555 (calls won’t show up on phone bills) or through a confidential webchat service, available on RSABI’s website www.rsabi.org.uk.

Its ongoing #KeepTalking initiative aims to encourage those living within Scottish agricultural communities to reach out and reconnect with loved ones, neighbours and relatives if feeling isolated or lonely.

At SAYFC, which was founded on the principles of providing a supportive network for young people farming, living and working in rural Scotland, development and wellbeing chair Abby Forsyth talks about the organisation’s high-profile Are Ewe Okay? mental health initiative.

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She says: “Prioritising your mental health, and taking yourself away from the constant pressures of the agricultural world can seem impossible for the average farmer. Even more so this year, due to the terrible spring weather which resulted in falling behind with field work and, of course, a real-life nightmare in the lambing shed!

“However, with show season and better weather fast approaching, there is no better time to take a little break and enjoy some well deserved time off.

“Whether it’s an agricultural show or a football match, maybe even something cost-free like bagging a Munro, or pushing yourself outside your comfort zone and trying something new altogether – either way, you’ll feel 10 times better for it.

“Closing the door to normality and a social life can happen far too easily and usually it’s not intentional.

“The pressure of farming is a 24/7 battle, but in order to manage stress, anxiety or even sleep deprivation, you have to switch off and take time out to do something for you.

“Managing your mental health is important, and the smallest change can make the biggest difference.

“As development and wellbeing chair for SAYFC, my biggest aim is to ensure all of our members feel supported – but also that they’re having a good time.”

Abby adds: “Those aged 14-30 have the privilege of joining Young Farmers, where we have a variety of events and activities on offer all of the time, so, there is always an escape from the day to day farming pressures and a constant support network, where each and every member can feel safe and secure.

“However, everyone is a friend of Young Farmers and the community doesn’t stop at the age of 30.”