Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Stress Management on the Farm

Stress Management on the Farm

When I attended the Women in Ag conference in January, we talked a lot about self care and stress management.  I had been wanting to write up a blog post about the topic.  Now, with the growing Coronavirus pandemic, it seems that everyone is feeling some stress so I figured that this might be a good time...

Farming (and life, in general) is stressful. There are a lot of the parameters that are outside our control...weather, financial worries, disease issues, regulations, weed or predator pressures, the list goes on and on.

Farming is a unique situation in that home and business happen all in the same place.  Failure not only affects the farmer but the farmer's whole family.  For smaller farms, the production of seasonal products can make it difficult to meet expenses in the off season.  For larger farmers, they can be at the mercy of the ever changing commodity market. 

Farm stress is rarely talked about but suicides among farmers are 1.5 times higher than the national average, and could be higher because some farm suicides could be masked as farm-related accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Some universities are now starting to address the issue of farm stress.

The University of Minnesota also has a set of Cultivating Resiliency Webinars offering tools to help in dealing with the stress.  

Michigan State University started a research project called Managing Farm Stress to determine if text messaging can help to alleviate farm stress.  

At the Women in Ag Conference, one analogy that was used is the 3 legged self care stool.
The 3 legs are:
1. Relational - having healthy connections with others
2. Cognitive - change negative self-defeating talk to empowering talk
3. Physical - eating/drinking right, sleep and exercise

On a Personal Note

I thought farming with Mark would be so carefree...we would just apply for funding and hire someone to build the coops for us and life would be peachy.  If you have been following along on our journey, that is not exactly how things have been working out for us. This has been stressful.  

Mark's funding was denied and we had to get a non-attorney advocate to help us fight this decision.  After working for months on this issue, we heard in February that his plan was going to be approved but we still have not gotten the funding (any day now, we are hoping!).  

Our contractor said he would be starting to work on the coops the end of August 2019.  We still have no coops. I could not sleep last Monday night because I was so upset that the coops have not been built!

Okay...try to stay positive...empowering talk...  

Because of LOTS of generous donations, we have been able to make ends meet financially with the chicks and ducks AND they have started laying eggs so we will finally have a product to sell (income!!!) 
Another positive is that the concrete finally got poured last week.  The chicks and ducks seem happy in the barn for now.
I am taking steps to manage my stress.  I think it's best if you work every day towards reducing stress but it's always best to have a "go to" plan when things get overwhelming.  My "go to" is praying.  I pray a lot to St. Rita, she is the patroness of impossible causes and hopeless circumstances because of her difficult and disappointing life.  I know prayer is not for everyone.  Find something that works for you.

I exercise most every day.  I found an app on my phone that goes through 5 minutes of full body stretching and I do that everyday.  I am making it more of a priority to meet up with friends.  I try to eat healthy.  I am getting better at evaluating priorities.  Also, I rant on this blog!  LOL!  Thanks for listening!

One last resource...North Dakota State University has a website with lots of great information about Farm and Ranch Stress.  Here is some information from their website:

12 Tools for Your Wellness Toolbox in Times of Farm Stress 

Individuals in farming can experience stress from multiple sources. Stresses can be managed as individuals use practical wellness strategies to reduce stress and improve wellness.

1. Exercise 20 minutes or more daily (walk, swim,ride a bike, etc.). Physical activity enhances feeling good.
2. Get a medical checkup with a local health-care provider. Stress can cause or add to physical challenges.

3. Spend 10 minutes to plan your day and priorities. A few minutes of planning reduces stress and helps you stay focused.
4. Take regular five- to 10-minute breaks in your day to relax and recharge. Doing this multiple times a day renews your energy.

5. Write down three things that you are grateful for daily. Conscious gratitude calms your mood.
6. Share concerns with a counselor or other professional. A listening ear helps lift your burdens.

7. Take 15 minutes each day for uninterrupted conversation with a spouse or family member. A few minutes of planning reduces stress and helps you stay focused.
8. Get involved or stay connected with a friend or group of friends. Doing this multiple times a day renews your energy.

9. Discuss needs of the farm operation but do not let them occupy all other aspects of life. Plan other daily work tasks to shift your focus.
10. Seek constructive feedback on your farm operation and ways to grow or improve. Others can share ideas or assist in new ways.

11. Create a family budget and seek to live within your means. This helps give you a sense of financial control.
12. Select three healthy habits you will try to practice daily. Start today!

Take a deep breath and have an eggcellent day!

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