I got a little preoccupied the other morning with an article from National Geographic. It was talking about giraffes. Did you know that a giraffe’s heart is more than 2 feet long? It weighs around 25 pounds and is specifically designed to push blood up the long neck, but not have as much pressure pushing blood to the rest of the body.

Because of the composition of the body, it makes it extremely difficult to tranquilize. They have to be given a massive dose to knock them off their feet, and then the antidote must be administered within a couple minutes or the giraffe dies.

When I first heard about the size of the heart, my first inclination was to think that would take up a whole beef box! My second thought was that there are a lot of people who could use that size of a heart.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I’ve written on mental health before and some of the experiences that I’ve seen in myself and my family. While still a taboo subject, sometimes it is one that needs to be discussed for people to realize that they are not alone, and that there are options out there that may help.

There was a post on social media this week from a gentlemen who I follow on Twitter. It said he did not personally know anyone who had contracted COVID-19, but he did know seven individuals that had committed suicide in the last week.

A lot of lives have been affected the last couple of months by the pandemic. While some heartwarming stories that have come out of the rubble, they seem to be few and far between. Add in a couple challenging days here or there, and those days seem to become even longer. It is easy to lose hope.

A couple things happened last week that were a struggle. I lost a cow to a freak accident while AI’ing. I forgot to gate a trailer compartment and ended up with my ATV heading to the local repair shop. And there were a couple other things that just did not go right. It’s easy to get bogged down in those days, and it’s also extremely difficult not to let them control the rest of the day. The Boss Man has always been pretty levelheaded and low key about things. He has the philosophy that no matter how bad it gets “it is what it is.”

I was having a conversation on mental health in rural Nebraska on my way home pulling the Daniels after the toughest of these challenging days. The man on the other end of the conversation wanted to hear my thoughts and opinions considering everything that was going on. It was a great day to visit about mental health, as my mind was focused on overcoming the negativities that may go wrong in 24 hours of ranching. It was great to vocalize some of those thoughts to another individual. And you know what I realized?

My diet sucks, my exercise patterns right now suck, my sleep schedule sucks, and my stress levels suck.

I may not be able to work on all of them at the same time (that would add even more to my stress load), but there is no reason that I can’t focus on a couple of small changes and hopefully stick with them.

The first thing I decided to try was a little bit of meal planning. I realize that I don’t have the time to cook three meals a day, but what if I try to make just one meal a day out of something that’s not a protein bar or ready in less than three minutes.

Second, I bought myself a new water bottle. Hydration is key not only to physical health, but it also plays a huge factor in mental health. I made sure that it fits on my ATV so I can carry it with me at all times and constantly refill as needed.

Third, I decided I need to walk or hike more. I do physical activity every day, but there is something to be said about activity that is not work-related. Maybe walking from my house to the shop once during a day will make me slow down and clear my mind.

I would love to hear what you are doing to work on your mental health during this time. The more we share and focus on our needs and the needs of those around us, maybe the more of us that will make it through all this in one piece.

Jaclyn Wilson raises Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. Send comments to her at jaclyn@flyingdiamondgenetics.com.