Mental health – living rurally

Living in the countryside can have its benefits – clean air, peace and quiet, beautiful scenery and no traffic jams. However, the flipside is that you can feel isolated and alone due to a lack of people around and things to do. Also, if you’re a farmer, unpredictable weather and other factors that are hard to predict or control can add to the stress.

Whether you’re farming, living on a lifestyle block or just living somewhere remote, the challenges and pressures of living rurally aren’t going to disappear. That’s why developing habits that help you look after your mental health are important.

Below, we list a few of the things you can do to support your mental wellbeing so you can cope better with the ups and downs of rural life.

Stay connected

Staying in touch with friends and family on a regular basis helps you feel connected. Have regular times when you meet friends or family in person, or online if distance is an issue. Socialising with friends is fun and gives you an opportunity to talk about things that may be bothering you.

Image: NZStory Toolkit

Volunteer in your community

Join a volunteer group or offer to do something in your community to help others. It’s a good way to meet people and you’ll feel good knowing you’ve helped someone. Read more about the health benefits of volunteering.

Befriend your neighbours

Do you know your neighbours? If not, get to know them. Invite them over for dinner or a BBQ. Knowing your neighbours is also reassuring should you need each other in an emergency.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing

Try building the Five Ways to Wellbeing into your life to improve your wellbeing. They are Connect, Give, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Be Active.

Join a local group

Joining a local group is a great way to get to know people in your community. Have a look online or on community noticeboards to see what’s on offer. It could be a sport’s group, book club or another type of group that gets together regularly. If nothing takes your fancy, try setting one up yourself.

Eat a healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruit helps you stay healthy, energised and feeling good.

Get enough sleep

Make sure you’re getting enough good quality sleep. When you sleep, important physical and mental processes are carried out. Not getting enough sleep is common and can have serious impacts on your health and wellbeing.

Keep active

Regular exercise reduces stress and increases positive mood, plus it keeps you fit and healthy! Exercising or playing sport with other people is a good way to keep fit and socialise at the same time.

Image: NZStory Toolkit

Reach out for help

It’s okay to reach out for professional help if you need it. There are lots of organisations that can offer advice, resources and counselling. Remember, there is the free national 1737 Need To Talk? number you can call or text 24/7.

Take a break

If you’re farming it can be hard to take a break because you work where you live. Make sure you take regular breaks and do something that’s off the farm to give yourself some time out and perspective. Farmstrong has lots of resources and information to help you live well and farm well.

If you’re worried about your mental health or that of someone you know, please contact your GP, healthcare provider or a support group for advice.


There are organisations that provide support to people in rural communities.

Farmstrong Information for farmers
Rural Support Trust A free and confidential service for people and families in rural communities
Dairy Women’s Network For women working in the dairy industry
Rural Women Network for people working in rural communities
Find out how to tell if someone is struggling with their mental health BBC, UK, 2021

Learn more

Rural health Ministry of Health, NZ


  1. Depression overview Health Navigator, NZ 
  2. Live well, farm well Farmstrong NZ
  3. Looking after yourself is just as important as looking after your land
  4. Rural stress Like Minds, NZ
Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.