Taking a Break: Homesteading Edition
I’ve been at this lifestyle for almost 3 years now and, I have to admit, I’ve taken a few breaks. I don’t mean taking a break as in neglecting the animals and letting them fend for themselves. As a beginner, I always read up on different homesteaders and looked at their beautiful pictures and it was exhausting! I wasn’t immediately achieving what they had achieved. Eventually, I decided to slow down and periodically take a break, as to not run into a burnout type of situation. I’ll categorize three types of breaks into mental, emotion, and physical because those are the types of breaks I’ve taken in the past.
The Mental Break
Plain and simple, the days of our lives have the potential to be quite overwhelming at times. Although homesteading is generally about pursuing a simpler life, that doesn’t mean angst and overwhelming spirals of frustration don’t present themselves. In the past, I’ve mentally worn myself out. I’ve been presented with situations or problems that I worked constantly around the clock to solve, only to end in frustration and tears (not to mention maintaining the unsolved problem). I eventually learned to give my mind a rest. Now, if presented with a problem, I’ll work on it for a few hours at a time never pushing my limit mentally. My problems are solved more quickly and I don’t feel like hiding in a dark room at the end, either. Win, win.
The Emotional Break
I feel that our emotions directly affect our mental health, so taking an emotional break when you need one is equally as important as taking a mental break. So I’ll be upfront and honest, I am a big bag of emotions; always have been, probably always will be. Working with animals has ‘toughened’ me up in a lot of ways, but it’s also made me much more of an emotional canon. My emotional breaks have been taken at times such as the first time I culled and cleaned a few ducks all by myself. I spent days emotionally preparing myself for the deed that needed to be done and I took a couple days to recuperate after. I suspect this won’t always be the case.
Over the years I’ve become more and more numb, in a way, to the reality of culling our own animals for meat. With this fact, I believe it’s another reason to take an emotional break. Raising animals for meat is a big deal; there’s a living entity being sacrificed for the sake of your health and it should never be taken for granted. I take emotional breaks to make sure I don’t lose touch with why I’m pursuing this lifestyle, to check back in with myself, and to make sure I’m maintaining an emotional balance for my own health and the sake of my livestock.
The Physical Break
Ah, the physical break. This will be the break you’ll probably take the most often, especially in the beginning! If you’re anything like myself, you weren’t in tip-top shape when you started homesteading and you might not be now, either (I’m not!). Farming and gardening, if never done before, will make you sore, folks. The lifting, bending, kneeling, twisting, pushing, pulling, etc. uses muscles that we don’t often use in our everyday lives. 3 years ago I never thought I’d be able to throw a 50 lb bag of feed over my shoulder and walk across a half acre of land to put it away. Even though I’m able to do it, it doesn’t mean I ALWAYS do.
A while back I wrote about “‘Must Have’ Tools for the Homestead Beginner” and mentioned my trusty ‘ole wagon which I still use almost every day on my homestead. This wagon is PERFECT for feed bags! If I have multiple bags in one trip, I’ll load them up and pull that wagon to where it needs to be. Whether you work out every day or not, your body always needs a break. I used to push myself physically thinking “Just a little bit more and I’ll be done”. This mentality has resulted in driving a drill bit into my thigh and fileting the tip of my finger with electric garden sheers! Slow down and take a break, you’ll thank yourself later!
What to do during your breaks?
I’m not all that great at wanting to take breaks. I run the homestead alone right now as my husband works and I often feel that if I’m taking a break, or I go inside, I’m being lazy, or not getting enough done. I’ve learned there are so many things to do on the homestead beside the outdoor chores! Take up meal planning or baking your own bread. Organize that corner in the back closet that you’ve been wanting to tidy up for years. Do you not want to be inside? Sit outside with your favorite drink and get some burn-therapy going! I’m talking about burning those sticks and vines you pruned last season, duh!
My point of this little diddy is this: Slow down and check in with yourself. Or as you may have heard the saying that goes “Check yourself before you wreck yourself”.
We can be our own worst enemies. Don’t be so tough on yourself all of the time. Acknowledge when your mind, heart, and/or body is telling you to hit the breaks. I’d love to hear how you take a break when things get tough or tired! Feel free to leave a comment below!