Three Tips on Managing Farm Related Stress

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It's no secret that farming is a high-stress occupation. Farmers are facing record low farm incomes, forcing them to make difficult decisions when it comes to the future of their farms. For some farmers the stress of their occupation becomes too much and begins to take toll on their mental health. At these times of high stress, here are three things you can focus on to help manage your mental health.
  1. Control events
To reduce the pile-up of too many stressful events at one time, farmers/ranchers can control some situations.
  • Plan ahead. Don't procrastinate. Replace worn machinery parts during the off season.
  • Before the harvest discuss who can be available to run for parts, care for livestock, etc.
  • Set priorities about what has to be done today and what can wait until tomorrow. Plan your time.
  • Say no to extra commitments that you do not have time to do.
  • Simplify your life. If possible, reduce your financial dependence on others.
  • Schedule stressful events within your control, such as elective surgery.
  1. Control attitudes
How farm/ranch family members view situations is a key factor in creating or eliminating unwanted stress.
  • See the big picture: "I'm glad that tire blew out here rather than on that next hill."
  • List all the stresses you now have. Identify those you can change; accept the ones you cannot change.
  • Shift your focus from worrying to problem solving.
  • Think about how to turn your challenges into opportunity.
  • Notice what you have accomplished rather than what you failed to do.
  • Set realistic goals and expectations daily. Give up trying to be perfect.
  1. Control responses
  • Focus on relaxing your body and mind. Whether you are walking, driving or phoning, do it slowly and relax. Keep only that muscle tension necessary to accomplish the task.
  • Tune in to your body. Notice any early signs of stress and let them go.
  • Take care of your body. Exercise regularly and eat well-balanced meals. Limit your intake of stimulants such as coffee, sodas and tea.
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes, using alcohol or other drugs, or using tranquilizers or sleeping pills.
  • If your health allows, tense and then relax each part of your body from toes to head, one part at a time.
  • Shake away tension as you work by vigorously shaking each of your limbs.
  • Take a break. Climb down from your tractor and do a favorite exercise.
  • Take three deep breaths - slowly, easily. Let go of unnecessary stress.
  • Stop to reflect or daydream for 10 minutes. Close your eyes and take a short mental vacation to a place you really enjoy. See the sights; hear the sounds; smell the smells. Enjoy. Then go back to work feeling refreshed.
  • Think positive thoughts: "I can and will succeed."
  • Look for the humor in things that you do.
  • Balance your work and your play. Do both well.
  • Find someone with whom you can talk about your worries and frustrations.
  • Seek help when you need it. There are times when all of us can benefit from professional help or support.
  • Unwind before bedtime. Do stretching exercises, listen to soothing music, practice rewinding deeply, and be thankful for any blessings received today. Then sleep well.
If you or someone you know is facing stressful times on the farm, please visit https://farmcrisis.nfu.org/ for various national and local resources.   Source: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/kids-family/farm-stress-fact-sheets-stress-management-for-farmers-ranchers

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