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Harvest Woes

Monday, October 24th, 2022

by Douglas L. Anderson, PsyD


Nothing like a blast of cold air to make sure we know Fall has arrived and the time to get harvest in gear is here.  But this year is a bit different than most.  We’re way ahead of normal harvest dates, and by the time you read this piece virtually all of the soybeans and most of the corn will be at the elevator or in a bin.  

But it isn’t going to feel great.  “Excellent” returns are in the single digits, and “poor or fair” returns are far more common than anyone would like.

My experience with family and friends in the ag industry tells me resilience is both necessary and reasonably common in this group.  My experience as a psychologist, however, tells me that even resilience has its limits.  And clearly this is going to be a difficult harvest season as actual bushels per acre get calculated.

Let’s define resilience.  The American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.”

That’s a mouthful!  Said in normal speak, resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult experiences and significant stressors.  Think about the times in your life when you were surprised by how, after a time, you were able to bounce back from some overwhelming and challenging emotional, occupational, or financial struggle.  

One of the marks of our humanity is our ability to adapt to what at times can be remarkably difficult circumstances and events.

You can grow your resilience by doing things like building your connections and prioritizing your relationships.  You also do well to take good care of your body (physical self) and your soul (emotional and spiritual self).  And do your best to avoid turning to negative outlets when facing stressful circumstances.  Turning to alcohol or other substances is a bit like putting a bandaid on a gaping wound.  It doesn’t help.

This might surprise some readers, but another way to grow resilience is to engage in serving others in need.  Serving others helps us keep things in perspective and provides us with a purpose.

I taught my children that life throws a lot of curveballs, and we need to keep swinging the bat.  That attitude involves an acceptance of the reality of life’s challenges.  Life can be very difficult at times, and this Fall may be such a moment for many of you who are reading this article.  In difficult moments it is important to accept the reality of the difficulty, grieve the hurt and sadness of the moment, and then move into a “take it on” approach.  You are right here right now.  How do you want to be or act in this moment right here right now?

The resilient person also knows when to seek out help.  People in the ag industry often feel alone just as so much of their work is done alone.  But you do not have to go through difficult times alone.  Seeking out help from friends and family, from community groups and church families, and from therapists can help you grow your resilience.

If you are feeling depressed or anxious, if thoughts of suicide course through your mind, and if you find yourself pulling away from family and isolating, please seek out professional help and grow your resilience to take on the next curve ball life throws your way.

We can help.  We have competent and caring therapists in all four of our locations - River Counseling Services in Platte, Sioux Falls Psychological Services, and Stronghold Counseling Services in Sioux Falls and in Yankton - who will meet you where you are, offering hope. That is our mission. You may schedule an appointment at the Platte office at 605-337-3444 or meet with one of our Sioux Falls or Yankton based therapists from your computer, smartphone, or in person at any of our clinics. To schedule an appointment, please call 605-334-2696.