Five Benefits of Taking Off-Farm Breaks


By Lesley Kelly, Farmer and Co-Founder of the Do More Agriculture Foundation.

When you’re a farmer and live where you work, taking time to take a break can be a challenge. The concept of taking a break can be foreign but as a farmer, it is especially important. No matter what the break looks like, it’s important to take a break from the job, the routine, and the demands of farming in order to keep stress levels in check and help maintain positive mental health. When we take a break, we’re not neglecting responsibility; we’re taking care of ourselves so we’ll have the stamina to be our best.

Taking a break from the farm may look different for everyone, depending on the type of farm, time of year and other responsibilities. A break off the farm may be a vacation, staycation, playcation or even a learncation. Examples may include:

  • A short drive down the road listening to music or a trip to town to visit a friend;
  • A day trip to a local destination that you’ve been wanting to check out;
  • A weekend getaway to another province to see a concert or sporting event;
  • Or an educational program in the city you’ve been wanting to take to sharpen your skills and learn something new.

You may need to take a break before you push yourself to the edge of burning out. Having a hard time focusing, relationships are suffering, showing signs of physical stress, and running on empty, overwhelmed and exhausted are all signs that taking a break may be good for your mental and physical health and safety.

Why take breaks?

Here are 5 reasons why taking breaks are not only good for your mental health, but good for your farm too.

#1 – Breaks can prevent “decision fatigue” which can lead to procrastination. Making frequent decisions on the farm can weigh a person down and reduce your reasoning ability.

# 2 – Breaks restore your motivation, especially for long term goals. Coming back to the farm after a break can help you set the vision and direction for your team, help envision the goal more clearly or bring back inspiration as to what you want or need from the farm.

#3 – Breaks increase your productivity and creativity. Taking breaks refresh the mind, prevents exhaustion and brings further creativity and perspective to solutions or challenges you may be facing.

#4 – Breaks can enhance our relationships. Being with your significant other or spouse off the farm, away from the daily routine where you have a chance to connect and enjoy new experiences may help strengthen your relationship and feel renewed when you come back to the farm. If you work with employees and/or family members, it shows your team you trust their ability. By taking time off from work, your team gets the opportunity to develop their skills and confidence to effectively manage the farm while you’re away.

#5 – Last but not least, taking a break specifically toward stress relief and burnout prevention—is the best thing you can do for yourself. Time away will help you pause, regroup, and come back with greater levels of energy, a fresh perspective and positive mental health.

How do you get from having good intentions of taking a break to making sure you get the break you need?

  • Plan your break. Schedule your break during non-peak times and put it in the calendar. It’s something to look forward to during busy times.
  • If planning a longer vacation is difficult, try starting with shorter breaks. It doesn’t have to be a long, expensive holiday to make a difference. Even a day or a few can help you feel rejuvenated.
  • Make time off a business goal. Maintaining physical and mental health and safety are important goals for businesses to have.

Taking a break off the farm clears the mind, calms the emotions and helps replenish your energy. It’s an effective stress buster, boosts creativity and productivity—and sets the stage for an all-around healthier lifestyle. When you return, you’ll have a fresh perspective and a more positive mind-set. Giving yourself breaks helps you recover from those busy periods too. It’s one of the most important things you can do for yourself, team and farm.