The Final Countdown

It’s finals week here at Alaska Pacific University, and this farmgirl is feeling the crunch! Fortunately, I have some de-stressing techniques. While sometimes it’s hard to find the time to actually employ those techniques… they are still nice to think about!

Easy Stress Relief in the form of Taz!

Feeling stressed out is common place for us humans. In our ancient past, it allowed us to fight or flight—it helped us survive. These days, at least for most of us in developed countries, stress is unwelcome, it is unhealthy, and it is just plain un-fun! Doctors tell us it is bad for our bodies and bad for our minds; our families tell us that it turns us into crazy people; and our sleep schedules are angry for being so out of wack. So, what can we do?

In these weeks of non-stop due dates and work (largely due to my own poor time management…perhaps I’ll touch on that later!) there have been a few moments of respite, a couple times where “poof” the stress is gone, if not momentarily. Here is a working list of those times and techniques I try to use when I feel like my head is going to explode, and I’m sure I’ll bring on an early heart attack. Maybe they’ll work for you, my fellow farmgirls, too, in this time of spring overload!

1. Pet a Pet

Razz-ama-Taz! Enjoying the spring sun, totally stress-free.

Dogs, cats, bunnies, guinea pigs, chickens, horses, iguanas—whatever you or a loved one calls a pet—go and pet it! Give a pet some love, and it will most likely love you right back. On the farm, I’m always impressed with the dogs’ (Otis and Taz) carefree attitudes. While they have moments of stress, too (generally in the form of protecting us from moose or chasing cars that smell of foreign dogs), they are generally happy-go-lucky animals just looking for a good belly scratch and a partner to walk with. In truth, that’s all I want right now, too!

2. Do Some Physical Labor

The hoop house is ready for some plants! Well… at least after the snow melts…

We all know that exercise helps reduce stress, it’s an age old tip. It really does work; but sometimes, exercise seems like an irresponsible activity to partake in when due dates are looming (or passed) and projects need to be finished. One of my favorite stress relief tactics is to embark on another task that needs to be finished. At least I’m still being productive! It is best when that other task involves a lot of movement, especially if that movement is outside, in the open air.

Last week, Amanda—the Spring Creek Farmer, Gil—a member of my cohort and the farm’s groundskeeper, and I put the plastic up on the farm’s hoop house. Gil and I had never done this before, and it is Amanda’s first year on the farm, so we were all newbies. The piles of snow have been melting very quickly around here lately, so the puddles in and around the hoop house were ankle deep! We made bets concerning when the snow inside the house would finally melt. I guessed April 25. Alas, there is still more than a foot of the white stuff left inside…

3. Admire Mother Nature

Two of my learners, bird watching.

John Muir put it so eloquently when he said, “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” While I would love to climb a mountain right now, I can’t due to the season and time. However, there are many ways to experience nature. Many birds are starting to migrate through our area, and bird watching has proved to be a lovely respite from the do, do , do and the go, go, go.

The picture above is from bird watching with my Magpies class the other day. There were reportedly some sandhill cranes in one of our fields, so we got our binoculars to investigate. We didn’t see any sandhills on the property, but we did see some Canada geese. I thought the learners wouldn’t be very excited about seeing them, but they were! The best moment was watching one of the girls, with binoculars up to her eyes, let out a quiet, excited “wow.” In the end we did see a small flock of sanhills flying in the distance, and we could hear their distinct calls.

Furthermore, the snow is melting at break neck speed. Our days now have nearly sixteen hours of daylight, with almost eighteen hours if counting dawn and dusk! That’s a lot of light!

The melting snow has left in its wake vernal ponds—for our birding and puddle splashing pleasure!

4. Celebrate!

Jen, Betsy, Taz and Gil—a few members of my cohort taking in the spring sun.

Oftentimes, there are others who share in your stress. Hopefully, this is not because you have forced it upon them (sorry to my lovely boyfriend, Evan, if this is the case!). My graduate cohort is awesome, and spending some time with them—whether it is a meal, a short complaining session, or a class—is a great way to shed some stress. Sometimes the only ones who can really empathize with your worries are those who are going through the same thing at the same time. So, thank you, cohort. I’m looking forward to our end of the semester celebration next week!

These are just a few of my tips that are easy to do and don’t take up a lot of time when it is of the essence. There are other great small things to sprinkle in there, too—a good cuddle session, tending seedlings, getting enthralled with the goofiness of the chicks, zoning out while doing the dishes, doing some key yoga asanas…the list can go on.

What do you, my fellow farmgirls, do for a quick bit of stress relief in these busy days of spring?

I hope this finds you all well, and with enough “you” time to keep you sane!

Sending Peace and Love,

Alex, the Rural Farmgirl

Leave a comment 4 Comments

  1. Sharon says:

    Great topic! Lately when things are busy and stressful and I am unable to make it to the beach during the day (which is my favorite place to go to de-stress), I will take some time at night to either pop in a cd or pick a station on Pandora and bust a move/rock out/bee bop around the house. My cats really love it if I sing along too >^..^<

  2. Laura says:

    Loved your post Alex. I too am a rural farmgirl, but living in rural Idaho instead of Alaska. One of my favorite de-stress tips is to take a footbath in warm water with some essential oils. I can read, study, blog, or check e=mails while doing so, but just soaking my feet really seems to take the stress out of my life.

    Good luck with your finals!

  3. Marji says:

    Hello Alex from your farmgirl sister in the wilderness north of Nenana! Spring is the time my stress level rises. After a long winter(and you know how long this one has been) of planning and devising all those summer projects by the time the snow is melting I am starting to feel overwhelmed worrying about how I am going to get it all done in our short summer. I find the best stress buster is to just get outside and take in nature. Pretty soon I’m cleaning a flower bed or moving planters to the greenhouse, raking fall leaves or just sitting in the sun watching the dogs play. These are my "aaahh" moments. Now if I can just find my "to do list". :)) Have a great summer!!

  4. Nicole says:

    I am a college as well, and it seems that stress has been a constant companion. I only find a sense of calm at my farm, I just wish we were at a place financially that we could be there all the time. :) Thanks for sharing your life.

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