How to manage the stress that comes with farming

How to manage the stress that comes with farming

Farming is not for the faint of heart.

Though that’s likely not news to anyone involved in agriculture in any way, it’s certainly a fact that needs to be acknowledged. With all the hard work that comes hand in hand with farming, though, comes a good amount of stress, too. Sometimes more than we’d rather face.

Farmers going through both good times and bad need to know how to manage that stress. That’s why we’ve put together this post that takes a closer look at stress management for farmers.

This is what causes stress for farmers

There are many factors that can cause stress for those in farming. Common examples include finances or important loan paperwork, lost income or accumulating debt, overall economic uncertainty, scheduling issues, equipment failure, personal health – the list could go on and on.

Know what stress looks like

Stress, like an illness, has symptoms. If you keep an eye out for any of the following symptoms, then you have a better chance at more easily managing stress:

  • Headaches
  • Being more tired than normal
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Other illness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Once you recognize any of these symptoms, it’s important to begin hashing out a plan for managing the stress before it gets worse.

Focus on getting enough sleep

Sometimes we find ourselves in a terrible cycle of not getting enough sleep because there is simply too much work to be done, or so we tell ourselves. Unfortunately, lack of sleep only hurts a person’s chances of finding ways to cope with and remove stress.

Lack of sleep also has dangerous consequences, especially for farmers. Think of it the way one expert put it during an interview with Successful Farming: “The physical manifestations of sleep deprivation are similar to what happens when we have 0.08 concentration of alcohol in our bloodstream.”

That can lead to slower reaction times, more mistakes and more risky behavior.

Stay active and healthy

Farming is certainly a more active lifestyle than others, but it’s still important to focus on remaining healthy. Getting enough exercise and physical activity is one very beneficial way of managing stress.

The same can be said for making personal health an overall priority, including by monitoring your diet. Don’t stress eat and try to take in healthier foods. That’s going to look like more fruits, vegetables and proteins that can keep you fueled both mentally and physically.

Adopt a more productive mindset

Another step in the right direction toward better stress management that farmers can take is adopting a more productive mindset. This can improve productivity and resiliency when stressful events occur – and they will.

Advice from Michigan State University Extension points out that a good mindset is a free tool that can save both time and energy so that you can get more out of your efforts.

To adopt a better mindset, start with self-talk. That is when you tell yourself that you can overcome, adapt and get through rough times. Think of it as motivational speeches to yourself.

Other helpful tactics include deep breathing exercises, such as focusing on five deep breaths and releasing air slowly after each breath. This gives you time to calm down and make better decisions when on the job.

Finally, accept that certain problems are just going to pop up. This way, you can hopefully skip stressing out about problems and move quickly into problem-solving mode.

Don’t rush the important decisions

Stress can make deadlines loom even larger in our minds. Farmers know all about deadlines and moments where important decisions need to be made quicker than we’re sometimes comfortable with.

If you are under stress, try not to rush into making those important decisions. Try to seek advice from someone you know who may have had a similar experience. This is especially helpful when facing financial difficulties.

Financial stress is not fun, but chances are you are not alone in facing the stress – or someone you know has faced it before you.

Focus on what you can control

So much of the stress involved in farming comes from a lack of control. Sometimes this is perceived and other times it’s an all too real situation.

But trying to focus on what you are able to control can help lower this stress. Try to find time to plan better or increase your education so that you feel more in control of the many facets of farming. By minimizing confusion, you can actually increase your levels of hope and at least feel more in control.

Know when to seek professional help

Nobody has to face stress alone. Sometimes, one might need to ask for help or advice from a friend, family or a fellow farmer.

In other instances, it’s incredibly helpful to seek out resources from a community organization or business. This could include a farm management pro, a specialist at a regional extension office or an agronomist. Even finding someone who can take a few tasks off your hands for a while could go a long way in lifting the weight off your shoulders and removing stress.

Counseling is another invaluable option that should always be considered. Find area mental health professionals or perhaps even a pastor that you can talk to about what stress you are dealing with.

Remember: Some stress can be healthy

This may sound like an oxymoron, but some stress is actually healthy. When managed properly and put in perspective, stress can be a motivating factor, something that pushes us to reach our goals.

It’s important to try to recognize when the stress goes from healthy to unhealthy.

Let Midwest Land Management lend you a hand

Midwest Land Management offers a wide range of farm management services that are meant to help farmers and landowners meet and exceed the goals they have for their operations.

From complete farm planning, to accounting of income and expenses, to soil stewardship and more, Midwest Land Management can help you achieve your goals – and the peace of mind that comes from knowing you are on a stable path toward success.

Contact our firm today and we’ll take a look at how we can put your farm operation on that path.