Lance Burdett has a message for farmers - everyone actually.
Lance Burdett is a man for our times.
He addressed 150 farmers on safety, wellness and resilience in Balclutha last week and it was a privilege to see him at work.
It is all about the mind. Drop the word 'mental'. It has negative connotations. It is all about 'mind health'.
He had the whole room practising breathing techniques; different ones for getting to sleep, one for controlling anger and another to relax.
After everyone had done a couple of these exercises the change in the energy in the room was palpable.
Breathing is the only way of controlling our minds. When the fight, freeze or flight response is employed we stop breathing. Wrong response. Conscious breathing is the key to managing our negative emotions.
Have a look at his article on Helping Our Struggling Children where he describes the three breathing techniques -
Have a look at his video where Lance describes his background and where his skills lie -
A message I took away with me was that, to a large extent, our brains are hard-wired to seek out danger, risk and negative thoughts. Our brains have a negativity bias. Worry is hard-wired into our brains. Lance reckoned that about 80% of our thoughts are negative. This developed as a way to protect ourselves from danger when flight, freeze or fight was the automatic response to the sudden appearance of a wild animal or enemy.
Negative thoughts can feed on themselves and result in the spiralling down that we refer to as depression. Lance believes these thoughts can be reframed and that we can change our thoughts and our behaviour as a result.
Lance told us that our emotions play the most important part in our behaviour:
- Negative emotions put us into a state of alertness,
- Positive emotions calm us,
- Anger invokes our desire for attack or revenge hence the reason people shout.
By understanding the varying emotional reactions to an event, we can learn about ourselves and help maintain control much easier.
Lance says that there are two effective methods of getting the shitty stuff out of our brains -
- Talk about it
- Write about it
The key thing for farming men, in his opinion, was to talk about their feelings and what they were experiencing every day. Apparently, men and women have the same thoughts but process them differently.
Lance has had experience working with people in the throes of suicide. His article on suicide is well worth reading -
Apparently, people who are having mind problems and are down, don't want to look you in the eye. Getting them to look you in the eye can be a game changer. "Can you lift your head up please."
Lance gave us a tip concerning the importance of sleep. Apparently, a small piece of protein like some almonds or a slice of meat, just before bed helps stop the squirt of the waking-up enzyme during the night. Especially good, according to Lance, is ... blue cheese!
Go easy on the blue cheese.
Keep asking great questions ...