Life in a coffee farm may not be perfect, but coffee farmers enjoy lower levels of stress and depression compared to people in the big cities. This treat is not a natural consequence to their environment but the result of their lifestyle and overall attitude towards themselves and life in general. Here are a few tips on things we can learn from coffee farmers.
Coffee farmers wake up as early as 4am. Depending on their commute (which is usually a long walk) and the season. There is something about the early twilight and transitioning into the day at the pace of the sun. Wake up while it is still dark, have time for yourself to get ready and enjoy some silence while the first rays come out. Make a point of pulling your blinds up and enjoy those first rays, either by taking it slow while drinking your coffee or commuting in silence and surrounded by those early peaceful sunrays.
Life in rural areas can be impractical. Amazon prime doesn’t deliver. Your options for everything are quite limited. Nonetheless, coffee farmers' attitude is that they have everything they need and they are very grateful for it. There is always more we could do or have, but there is something quite special about simply cherishing what is in front of us. In the world of infinite opportunities and possibilities, we are constantly sacrificing. The lesson from coffee farmers is to focus more on cherishing our choices and what is available, than dwelling in the grief of what we give up and let go. This simple formula is key for deep gratefulness.
Networking is a spectator sport in the more developed world, but in small towns where families have known each other for generations and their lives have been so intertwined, caring for those near to us is a daily practice. Regardless of how many Instagram followers you have or Facebook friends you have connected with, one on one quality time with our loved ones is crucial. It is also crucial to stay attentive to the needs of those around us. I know my neighbor’s wife just had a baby. I could bring a meal so they don’t have to worry about cooking during this time. I know my good friend is going through a divorce. I could send her flowers with an encouraging note.
Reminding people of their dignity, their worth, and value, can go a very long way.
Spend Time Outside
Farmers spend the majority of their time outside. Even when resting, the typical coffee farm architecture includes big porches and terraces where farmers can enjoy lunch, a coffee, and even the occasional card game while partially outside. There is plenty of research pointing out the mental health benefits of spending time outside. The sun has an incredible power to fight anxiety, depression, and the everyday stresses. It is almost inconceivable to match the amount of time coffee farmers spend outside given how much office time we are expected to have, but open the windows and let the sun in. Go for quick walks as often as possible and even if the weather is not inviting, remember that there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong outfit. So dress as needed and go for a quick walk with a friend or alone.
Small changes to our mindset and attitudes can have a long lasting impact on our health. Mental health is important not only for the sake of our own happiness, but because it affects everything. Good mental health improves our physiological health, our work productivity, and even our spiritual health.
I hope the simplicity and humility of coffee farmers inspires you to be intentional about your mental well-being.