The landscape of rural based living has always fostered a resilient, multi-talented and hard-working mind frame in those who choose, or were born into ranching, homesteading, or farming. But at what point does our emotional strength and resilience crater to the level of adversity or pressure one individual, family, or operation can handle.
Many of us have been doing our best to stay productive, be successful, keep our passion-built ventures on the ground, and put food on the table, let alone trying to maintain all of this and our emotional well-being/self-care through the trying times of an off-centre world, natural disasters, pandemic, and economic downturn.
With stress overload, financial strain, and relationship crises on the rise, it is no wonder that we are seeing more depression, anger, exhaustion, and anxiety in ourselves and those in our communities.
Rural people naturally adopt strength in mind, body, and soul. It takes an immense amount of energy to maintain resilience and those who seem the strongest are often most in need of support, they just don’t always know what that means or how to ask for it.
Have you ever been in that moment when someone asks, “How are you doing?” You can’t in honesty say great, fantastic, wonderful thank you! However, you don’t feel safe saying sad, stressed, terrified, or angry. Your response ends up somewhere in between, like, “Oh you know, …. we are getting through” or “I’m doing alright.” When in reality, one day from the next may feel like riding a roller coaster of unpredictability and misfortune. If you are honest with yourself and scared to express what you are truly experiencing, you most likely are in a survival state not a thrive state.
What does it mean to be in a survival zone versus thrive state?
There is a fundamental difference between thriving and surviving. Surviving means continuing to live or exist, while thriving can be defined as to grow or develop well, to prosper or to flourish. Rural individuals have often found routine and comfort in the status quo of survival mode. We wake up before the rest of the world and do, and do, and do some more, and by the end of the day there is nothing left for our own self-care, needs, or desires outside of the work that, yes, we love but can also hate.
We all would like to live in a place of peace, freedom, and ease. No one I know wants to be simply existing, but many of us are in survival mode most of the time. For myself with the current state of our world and the impact felt from the suffering and discomfort all around me, it has felt like one big hit after another.
Myself, my family, clients, and many people I know have had to make what feels like endless adjustments and deep dive into the hard work of creating thriving opportunities for themselves in a landscape that is filled with adversity. Some days feel immensely successful, and some days feel incredibly hard. Therefore, having the skill set to be able to bring yourself out of a state of survival is key to living a more centered life.
What keeps us stuck in a survival state? Fear of the unknown, navigating the uncertainty of life’s circumstances, trauma, or developed habits to name a few, but luckily, simply envisioning a life beyond surviving puts you one step closer to a Thrive Mindset.
How do you know if you are in a survival zone or thrive zone?
Even though things may seem bleak or the worst it’s ever felt, there are things that you can do to make a shift to feeling better, more grounded, or releasing some of the stress you are carrying. The first thing is to release any shame and affirm to yourself that there is nothing wrong with being NOT OK.
Asking for help may feel normal in the realm of physical labor and getting the workload spread further, but seeking support emotionally/mentally could seem completely like a foreign concept to you. Surround yourself with those who inspire you, teach you, calm you, or who are professionals in the realm of emotional wellness. It resources and motivates you to keep moving towards what you want and need for your unique sense of balance.
Offering compassion towards oneself and others is crucial in the Thrive Game. Vulnerability is hard but everyone is going through something and that doesn’t make us weak or a failure. Sometimes we just need to hear that things are going to turn out alright, or that we are doing the best we can in our circumstances.
Resourcing yourself is of immense importance to combat mental health challenges. Even when you want to seek out support and sometimes barriers arise living remotely or within a rural based community. Accessibility, Availability, Affordability, and Acceptability are four key challenges someone must overcome to engage in community based mental health support/programming during a mental health crisis. Sometimes it can feel too vulnerable seeking support in a community that knows us well. We must do the best we can to take care of ourselves and seek outside resources when we can.
Some Things you can do to Resource Yourself
Understand who you are: People who are attuned to their own strengths and weaknesses are more able to clearly define what they enjoy doing every day and what’s important for them to be doing. Spending time learning about yourself strengthens your ability to recognize your own likes, wants and needs. Make a list of your strengths, weaknesses, goals and needs to better reflect on who you are and where you would like to see yourself down the road.
Choose to incorporate daily activities that use your skills, strengths, and passions: Adjust so that the maximum time possible is spent on the activities that benefit your body, mind, or spiritual well-being – even when all you can do is bite-size actions.
Balance your life as much as it is realistic to do so: Self Care – to thrive physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, try to be intentional with eating, sleeping, participating in movement outside of work; invite meaning, develop a routine, set limits (boundaries), rest and make time for play. All these things are important for emotional well-being. Listen to your body for what you may need or start by choosing one to focus on.
Remember the hard times: Remind yourself of the things that you have gotten through and challenges you have faced before. You got through it because of certain people who supported you and/or specific actions you implemented. You will come through this time of adversity too!
Sometimes choosing to thrive feels more difficult than simply surviving. Thriving is also not a permanent state. You can expect to move in and out of survival mode and a thrive state frequently. The key is to notice when you are in a survival zone and have the awareness to move yourself from reactivity into a responsive state when you feel you need to.
Developing the resilience to turn crisis into opportunity will ultimately serve you in every area of life. Remember to treat yourself with the compassion, support, and encouragement you would offer to others. Take one small step at a time, build yourself up, celebrate your blessings, and never doubt for a second that you are worth it.
Meagan Saum Bio –
My name is Meagan Saum and I am a momma of 3 kiddos, owner of a 320-acre wellness/working ranch, educator at heart, & an entrepreneur of over 17 years who loves to travel, spend time with my menagerie of animals, or on the back of my horse checking our cow/calf herd, create quality memories with my family/friends as well as relax with a tea & good book!
My passion as a Life & Business Coach is in supporting individuals that have fallen into patterns that no longer serve them, who feel overwhelmed, stuck, exhausted, lost, unclear, under-resourced, or unsatisfied in their lives and/or businesses.
What fills my soul is empowering my clients to step into their power and claim a newfound sense of awareness, clarity, courage, & freedom. I am thrilled to be a feature contributor for the Rural Mental Wellness Blog.
I’m a no bull, kick ya in the keister kind of gal and love to give all sorts of advice (I promise I’m a good listener too) about how to flip the switch on your mindset, bridging the gap between logic & inner wisdom, helping you move forward with effective actions to reach new & exciting goals.
Areas that I specialize in are emotional resilience, limiting beliefs, self perception, healthy boundaries, positive leadership, power dynamics, mindfulness centered somatic trauma resolution, equine facilitated wellness, & authentic business building from idea stage all the way through scaling.
My details are listed below and I would love to connect!
Meagan Saum –Heart Centered Life & Business Coach
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