Managing through the winter months and knowing mental health indicators — a LIVE! with Lesley Kelly

Left to right, the Do More Ag Foundation team: Himanshu Singh, Lesley Kelly, Kim Keller (Missing: Kirk Muyres)

What do you do to combat the “winter blues?” Knowing yourself and when you’re feeling ‘off” is the key to knowing your own mental health.

To give us some strategies, Lesley Kelly, co-founder of DoMoreAg and mental health advocate, joins Kara Oosterhuis for this LIVE!


  • Horsehair dance floor: DANCELAND at Watrous people
  • This time of year is tough, what do we have to look forward to? Tips to get out of the winter blues
  • Winter months are very dark, there’s literally not a lot of sun, and that can affect us in darkness in other ways. But getting outside and exercising — Cross country skiing, walking, snowshoeing
  • Set goals, breaking projects down into bite-sized pieces. Organizing the home, the paperwork in the office, get the to-do list done!
  • Taking a break, planning some sort of vacation, even if it’s far away it provides something to look forwards to. Something even as simple as a night at a hotel
  • Takee up a new hobby
  • Practice gratitude
  • Have a daily routine
  • People are aware and are intentional of what they can be doing to help themselves
  • With seasonal depression, or clinical depression, getting out of bed can be the hardest part of the day, so having a motivator can kickstart the day
  • DoMoreAg, what resources do they have, especially for people who might be alone in this? Even if you’re around people, you might still feel alone. Head over to their website
  • There are resources, counsellors, mental health professionals that can accommodate you on your mental health journey with texting, phone calls, video calls
  • Lesley and her husband Matt did a video sharing Matt’s personal experiences with panic attacks and anxiety, which was part of the catalyst for starting DoMoreAg. Having the conversation to increase awareness, advocate for mental health, and reduce mental health stigma in agriculture
  • Three year anniversary or the organization this month
  • Have a safe space for someone to have conversations, listen, be there for someone that has a mental health issue
  • With no farm shows this winter, farmers may be at a higher risk from a mental health aspect, with no ability to socialize like they normally would. When these shows aren’t happening we have to look for other ways to connect. Social media can be useful for this, video chat, texting
  • Even one conversation can help spark someone else to get the help they need. What Lesley’s fearful of is when the conversations don’t happen
  • Ten years ago the conversation was “what is mental health?” and now it’s “what keeps us healthy?”
  • Stress is less stigmatized and it can be the way to get over the big elephant in the room, it can make way for the harder conversations to happen
  • Sometimes it’s hard to connect over Zoom. Explore it if it works for you, but try other communication tools
  • Vitamin D! Either through sunshine or as supplement
  • Research at University of Guelph, about five years ago, objective was to understand where farmers were at: 40 per cent of farmers felt uneasy to get help with their mental health because of stigma
  • How are you doing? doesn’t usually get the most genuine answer. Being more direct lets a person know that you see them. It depends on the circumstance but asking a question is key.
  • Having mental health professionals to understand rural communities and agriculture! Public vs private
  • Proactive vs reactive. Knowing your symptoms. Being aware of where you’re at on your spectrum. Irritated? Not eating? Not sleeping? Get to know your symptoms
  • It’s OK to recognize your symptoms and to say that you have to change the way you do things on your farm.
  • The person listening to you doesn’t need to fix you, they just need to listen
  • Mental health first aid course is an excellent option

Wake up with RealAgriculture

Subscribe to our daily newsletters to keep you up-to-date with our latest coverage every morning.

Wake up with RealAgriculture