Any season can be cruel, and the last few weeks have shown just how punishing spring can be. With flooding, rain, snow, ice and storms, we’re truly experiencing some conditions that put our spirits to the test. In addition to the relentless weather, farmers and ranchers are facing low commodity prices and trade turmoil, machine breakdowns and long days away from loved ones.

Endurance and fortitude – good old-fashioned grit – are blessings indeed. But even among us hardy Northern Plains natives, that isn’t always enough.

To stay healthy in body, mind and spirit, remember you have a professional team at Avera that can provide timely intervention when needed. An important part of staying power is recognizing when you need help, and not being too proud to seek it out.

Conditions that affect our heads and hearts are as serious as any other health conditions such as heart disease or cancer. That’s why Avera has set up a toll-free Farmer’s Stress Hotline, so that people who need it can call 800-691-4336 to talk to a professional. The hotline operates 24 hours a day, and no one is going to check to see how many acres you plant or cattle you raise. It’s a service than can help anyone and is a great starting point. Often the conversations about mental health care can start with your local primary care provider. Regardless of the beginning, the important thing is that you do begin that journey toward personal well-being.

Stress can lead to depression and anxiety. These conditions, when untreated, can become a bigger problem that may get worse. Recovery from a major flooding event happens in slow-motion – there is just so much to do, and it’s all so demoralizing. If this describes you, be patient with yourself and do not hesitate to seek help.

Untreated anxiety not only affects our hearts and our heads, it can lead to anger and outbursts, trouble with friends and family, difficulty sleeping and even physical problems, such as high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. None of us are immune to it, even if we were left untouched by this season’s demanding conditions. We may feel guilty or sad that our relatives or neighbors lost so much. You might know dozens of people who need help, but you only have so many hours to give.

You won’t be able to help anyone if you’re on the sidelines yourself, so remember to focus on self-care, take breaks and reach out to our professionals when the time is right or you need us. We must all come together and move forward, and we will, whether we took a direct hit or only know folks who did.

Make sure you and your loved ones are doing okay – and remember help is close for those who are experiencing difficulty, no matter what the challenge might be.

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