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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘I could not help myself because I put so much pressure on myself’ – Styles on mental health

For 28-year-old sheep farmer Matt Styles, “farming for me is a bit like a double-edged sword, so there is the side of it that leads to poor mental health”.

“But there is also the side that brings some much joy, in that you see unfiltered beauty that is absolutely amazing,” he explained in a video as part of Yellow Wellies’ Mind Your Head series.

He said that mental health is becoming a major issue because farmers now are facing larger, greater pressures than ever before, particularly if they are the head of a family.

If they have a family to provide for and a farm to run that is a lot of pressure on one person, as he highlighted.

Combine that, with the isolation of generally working completely on your own, day in, day out, can just lead to “a massive whole that you feel you cannot get out of”.

Mental health

Matt’s mental health spiralled downhill when he “put an expectation on myself to achieve something that I was incapable of achieving because I did not have the skills to do it”.

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“I could not help myself because I put so much pressure on myself to do that thing, that I felt helpless.

He admits that there have been “very tough” days, weeks and months and it has felt like that in those periods of time, there is “no way you can see it getting better”.

But, he is now at a point now where if his mental health dips and he feels like he is going into old unhealthy habits, he now has “the tools in my arsenal to be able to help myself”.

Happiness is a choice

He explains that this has been through years of work to really learn how to get better at managing his mental health.

He continued: “I have used social media for such a long time now and I have seen both the good and the parts of it.”

“For me, the bad part was a time when I was trying to be someone that I am not and now, I am in a good place with it, because I am me.”

“I just put my images and story out there and be as honest as I can be. There are always going to be other challenges around the corner and resilience for me was realising that I am never going to be 100% prepared for the next challenge because I do not know what it is going to be.”

“But what I can do is as much preparation as I possibly can and accept that the next challenge is going to be trickier than the last.”

“For me, the one thing that I have learned is that happiness is a choice, and you have a choice to use negative or positive language to yourself.”

“That can make such a difference in the long run. One thing I would say is that is a skill, something that has to be learnt and it takes time.”

“However, over that period, if you put the work into learning that skill, it can ultimately lead to a much better quality of life,” he concluded.

Previous interview with Matt: ‘My aim is to be at 500 ewes’ – Styles on starting enterprise from scratch

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