About 200 Mid Cantabrians from the rural sector put their needs first to attend the Time Out Tour at Hotel Ashburton on Tuesday evening.
Mental health advocate and former TV personality Matt Chisholm picked local counsellor Anna Arrowsmith for an ice-breaking game of Jenga to lighten the mood.
Otago high country farmer Jack Cocks spoke about his journey to beat the odds after a brain aneurysm, and his mission to figure out how farmers could thrive in times of adversity.
For Cocks, it came down to having a clear purpose, maintaining connections, and taking steps to look after your well-being by doing the things you need to do to be well and happy.
"Wellness is something I have to keep working on," Cocks said.
Chisholm, Arrowsmith, and Tyler Langford - the wife of YOLO (you only live once) farmer Wayne Langford -spoke briefly about their experiences with mental health before jumping into a panel discussion to explore their experiences and the coping mechanisms that worked for them.
Gratitude and slowing down to appreciate the small moments were high on the list for Chisholm.
"Find your medicine and try to bring it into your every day."
For Chisholm that was taking time to enjoy his farm and family.
"The quality of your life is almost entirely dictated by the quality of your thoughts," said Chisholm.
He recommended reframing "I have to do this" to "I get to do this" and used an example of moving a fence in a snowstorm.
"Moving a fence in the snow is better than working in a toxic newsroom," he said.
Langford spoke about her experiences when her husband descended into a "really dark place" and how difficult it was to watch her best friend slowly disappear.
She said she felt really resentful until she realised it wasn't about her.
"This was his journey and I could only walk beside him," she said.
Arrowsmith spoke about the counselling process and how brain plasticity enables people to rewire pathways in their brains for more beneficial and productive thinking.
She encouraged people to seek help before they hit rock bottom. "It's easier to get back on top than if you find yourself in a really dark place," Arrowsmith said.
Simple coping tips
You don't need to go through it in isolation. Lean on your people and you will get through what life is throwing at you.
Before you go to bed, write down three things that went well each day.
Create a list of 10 things you are grateful for and read it when you feel down.
Start a gratitude journal and list three things you are grateful for each day.
Think back to a time in your life when things were going well. Figure out what you were doing then and reintroduce those things into your life - such as time with family, or going for a run.
Purpose is the opposite of depression. Find a purpose or reason to get up and do what you do each day.
By Sharon Davis