#5: You Can’t Pour from an Empty Cup Part 2 - Strategies to Get and Stay Energized

In this session, we continue our conversation on filling your cup, focusing on how to get and stay energized.
This episode is a continuation of our last episode, Shauna Reitmeier and Brenda Mack summarize the second half of our “You can’t pour from an empty cup” webinar. One of the ways we can refill our cups is to practice self-care. Here we focus on emotional self care and decision making as a way to get and stay energized in the midst of our busy lives in agriculture and farming. 


Megan Roberts:
Welcome to this session of our Cultivating Resiliency for Women in Agriculture podcast, series one. The Cultivating Resiliency project develops tools for women in agriculture to recognize, adapt to, and develop positive coping strategies to life stresses. This podcast series is developed from our Cultivating Resiliency webinars sessions. I'm Megan Roberts and I co-led this project along with Doris Mold. In this podcast, we feature Shauna Reitmeier and Brenda Mack as our session hosts. Shauna and Brenda are professionals in behavioral health with family ties to farming. In this session, we summarize the second half of our You Can't Pour From An Empty Cup webinar. One of the ways we can refill our cups is to practice self-care. Here, we focus on emotional self-care and decision-making as a way to get and stay energized. Here is Brenda.

Brenda Mack: Something that's been helpful for me regarding what issues am I going to focus on, how am I going to make decisions what's my plan going to be is for me, it's helpful to feel a sense of accomplishment and so I'll look at all of the tasks or activities that I need to do or get done, and I'll write those down, and then I'll look at that like lowest hanging fruit. If I'm walking by an apple tree and there's an apple that is right at kind of my arms length reach, it's easy to pull that apple down and take a bite out of it. And that's really what I think about with when I'm organizing tasks and activities and trying to feel a sense of accomplishment is starting with those things that are more easily and quickly accomplished, and there is something about scratching through that line on your to-do list and seeing that it's done. That gives me energy. It fills my cup a bit.

Shauna Reitmeier: And now we walk into that next step of the process is really how do you make decisions and what the process of decision-making is? And these are just some of the things to think about, and we're going to talk about a couple of those in a little more detail here, but identifying problem solving, identifying what's the decision that needs to be made, gathering the information and do you have the facts? Do you have your personal values that are important for you to weigh this information against, and identifying your options of what you want to do. Weighing what that evidence or that information that you gathered, is it high risk? Is it low risk? And choosing which options that you want to take action on.

So that's really just the process and things that you can be thinking about as you move forward with tackling that list of things that you've just come up with. And so these are some questions, when you're trying to solve a problem, many times it's trying to really get at is there a root or an underlying issue? Because sometimes some things come up that there might be five things, but it's really something that is at the core that needs to get addressed. And so an exercise that I use very often is this ask five why. If you ask five why's to what your first problem or first issue is, you start drilling down and you get to what that root of your question or your problem is that you're trying to solve.

What you could do in asking well, why can't we make this vet bill? All right, because now you're diving into well, because I've got these three other bills. I've got to pay for seed, I've got to pay for feed, I've got labor costs.

Doris Mold: And I've got to keep heat on in the house and food on the table.

Shauna Reitmeier: Well, exactly.

Doris Mold: Okay.

Shauna Reitmeier: And so then you say well, why do we have that? Well, my value and I've got my priority is that my family, I need to pay for this first. And then you start drilling down and what it does is it helps you ... So it doesn't solve the problem. I mean, you're getting to the root of what an issue is, but then you start diving into what do I have control over or what don't I have control over?

This does not mean, when you go through a process like this, does not mean it's going to make it easy. It's giving you a framework to start asking the questions because there are going to be times. The reality is that there are times we're going to have to make really hard decisions that we don't really want to make, but by making them itself relieves some of that pressure.

Doris Mold: Right.

Shauna Reitmeier: Do I have to scale back in my production of what I've been ... With whatever your crop is or your cattle, because I can't keep up with these bills or I need to scale back in some of my fun or personal activities that I want to do to make sure that I can put food on the table and pay the vet bill.

Doris Mold: Right.

Shauna Reitmeier: Maybe I'm going to have to hold off on a trip that I wanted to take or a remodel on something.

Brenda Mack: When I see this and I hear you talk about this a little bit further. To me, it's like that apple that I just picked from the low hanging ... From the tree, and that you're taking a bite of an apple and the core of the apple is your ability to make an informed decision. And so this process of taking those bites of the apple, or if you want to reference peeling away the layers of an onion, it's to get to that point where you make an informed decision, and it might be a difficult informed decision, it might be an outcome that you don't necessarily want to have happen, but you're at that point where you can make that informed decision. Because you've been through this process of asking yourself these questions, reaching out to somebody else where that decision affects them as well, and it helps you to organize and structurally think about that a little bit more.

Shauna Reitmeier: It does, and it also helps you start the what and the why. That kind of gets at the underlying okay, how did this come up? Why did it come up? Is it an interpersonal relationship issue? And then you start getting into who's involved. Am I trying to please somebody or does somebody has an expectation on me? So it helps you start figuring out, getting more to the now how do I address that? And then, so then moving in, as we drill down to how do we solve that problem? What questions am I asking? One of the other pieces here is how do I assess the risk? So when I'm starting to get ready to make a decision to say do I want to move forward with something, and let's use an example of one of the things on the list that you dumped out from your brain dump that you've done is we just found out that a big section of the side panel on the barn is rotting out and that's where the cattle all line up for milking every morning, and you're trying to figure out what do I do. Do I build a brand new barn? Do I just repair a section? You start asking yourself ... Say it's October and the snow ... We won't say it's the 22 below zero that it was here this morning in Crookston, Minnesota. Let's say it's winter is coming and you know you have to do that, so you start weighing out, is it probable? Can we do this? And is there a risk? So what's the risk to the cattle? What if the barn is ... It makes the structure unstable? Is the barn ready to fall down? Well, yes it is. If it's ready to fall down, then you've got a safety risk. You've got a risk to people working in the bar, you've got risk to the cattle. You start making a decision of okay, we're going to repair. All right, do we have the ... Can we afford it? Do we have the income to cover that? Is it repairing versus building a brand new barn? So you look at if it is something that yep, we've got the money, we can fix the side of the barn, we're not going to build a whole new barn. So the probability of being able to do that is pretty high and the risk is maybe somewhat medium. The barn isn't going to fall down right away, but it allows you to start weighing your decision on probability with the problem is how risky is the problem. So it helps you make some decisions on that.

Brenda Mack: I think what can be helpful about this as well is it helps you frame the issue and get organized around the issue, and it's something that you can do with the other person in your relationship that is needing to make a decision about this.

Shauna Reitmeier: You bet.

Brenda Mack: So you certainly can do this independently, but it's also meant as an opportunity to have a shared vision or process of being able to make decisions.

Shauna Reitmeier: And that's the secondary purpose behind this. So this is great in helping get all that stuff that's in our head out on a piece of paper, start asking questions, using those frameworks to figure out what do we work on first? How risky is the issue? And helping then moving into how do we plan for the action of fixing or solving whatever the problem is? And I just pulled out a couple examples in what Brenda was saying is the secondary piece behind this is you can do this with your spouse, with your business partner that you might run your farm with, as a way to put this information out on a piece of paper so it doesn't become struggles potentially, and it's used as a communication tool. It's used as an accountability tool. So now you say we've decided as our farm, we are going to repair that side of the barn, we are going to do it ourselves, we're not going to contract out because we feel like we can do this. We've researched that. So now, if it's just my husband and myself that are working on this, it's the two of us that are going to figure out who's doing it, but it also helps me say, "All right, Shauna, this is what I'm going to take of, so that's what I'm in control of, and my husband's going to worry about these things. So those are the parts that he can worry about and I don't have to worry about them because he's doing it."

So this just is a tool. I mean, it can be as detailed as you want it to be, or it could be as simple as that little picture up there with a marker on a piece of paper that the idea really behind this is to help figure out who's going to do what to accomplish a goal and to move forward so you've made a decision, you're being intentional about whatever that decision is, and it can also, when I think of from family dynamics as well, I mean, you could be putting your children in there that might have a task. Oh, they might not know how to do it, maybe I'll put a checklist together so when they go out to the barn they know what to do.

Or it helps just, again, that communication and having those side conversations with your spouse or your partner around boy, are you worried at all? Now we've got to do this, and we know we've made this decision, but are you worried about the cost? Is there anything that you're concerned about as we do this? So now it's about the activity of action planning, but it allows for a backdoor approach to start having some conversations with your partner as well.

Megan Roberts: Now here is Brenda, one more time for some concluding remarks on a decision many find challenging to make, the decision to say no when we have too much on our plate and our feelings spread thin.

Brenda Mack: I'm giving everyone here permission to say no. We don't have to be everything to everyone, and if we are trying to be everything to everyone, you're probably going to see your stress increase to levels that can be very unmanageable. So it's okay to it's okay to say no.

Shauna Reitmeier: The question to start asking yourself a little bit is what of these things align with what's really important to me? What are my values? As we start figuring out how do you move forward with managing all of this stuff so that when the next person comes up to you and asks, "Hey, could you help me with this fundraiser? Or could you do this?" Yo know right away what is the most important to you right now and sure, you want to be helpful, but maybe not right now because you're over committed or oh, you know that in a week something's going to come off your plate and you'll have time then to be able to help. It just helps you manage a little bit more all of the demands that are happening.

Megan Roberts: Thanks for joining us on this Cultivating Resiliency for Women in Agriculture podcast, series one. Becoming more resilient and practicing self-care takes intention and focus on making careful decisions. It takes care, time, and effort to support each of the three legs of the self-care stool. These three legs are relationships/social care, emotional self-care, and physical self-care. Here we really focused in on the emotional self-care leg of the self-care stool, in particular, through the context of emotional self-care in decision-making. We started by talking about picking the low hanging fruit when it comes to tasks and decisions. We learned strategies like making lists, asking yourself good questions, why, what, how. What is causing your stress and making your decisions difficult? And we learned on focusing on what we can control. When making your decisions, can you come to a solution that relies only on the things you can control? We can't change what we can't control. Finally, remember that we have limited time in our days and sometimes the decision we have to make is to say no in order to protect our time and to reduce negative stress. Speaking of reducing negativity and negative stress, our next podcast will focus on increasing joy and happiness in an agricultural life. This project is a collaboration of American Agri-Women, District 11 Agri-Women, University of Minnesota Extension Women in Ag Network, and the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center, UMASH. You may find the recordings for our entire webinars series on the UMASH or American Agri-Women websites under Cultivating Resiliency.

#5: You Can’t Pour from an Empty Cup Part 2 - Strategies to Get and Stay Energized
Broadcast by