The economic conditions in the agricultural industry are a major source of stress for farmers and their families, and affect almost every facet of farm life. It is abundantly clear that financial stress tends to lead to increased psychological distress.Learning how to manage stress is important, especially during tough times. It was Robert Schuler who said, "Tough times do not last, but tough people do." What are some suggestions for farmers and their family members in dealing with stress? The first is to understand and acknowledge the signs that a farm family may need help. Among these signs:
- Farmers and other family members may also experience more colds, the flu, coughing episodes or other illnesses
- A farm family may stop attending church or drop out of organizations
- Upkeep on the farm may go by the wayside, and even farm animals may appear unusually thin
- There may be more accidents occurring with more frequency due to an inability to focus on the task at hand
- There may be depression in the kids which often presents itself as behavioral problems in school and in the community
One should take the following five steps to manage or reduce your stress:
Awareness is one way to reduce the levels of stress and their effects for farm families. There should be an awareness coupled with education about stress and it should be targeted at farm operators, farm spouses, farm children and others playing a role in the Ag operation.
Second, peer counseling would help. Farmers have a great reluctance to identify themselves publicly as needing help or having difficulties. They do not want to admit personal weakness or vulnerability. Peer counseling is based on the belief that sharing a concern or problem with peers often leads to a solution as a greater number of individuals think about, and provide personal insights into, the possible solutions for particular problems. Farmers need to relate to farmers who share their daily experience.
Third, learn to accept what is realistically beyond your control, and be willing to delegate tasks to others, as appropriate.
Fourth, take care of yourself (eating regular, healthful meals; sleeping; resting; exercising; etc.) Include physical activity as a part of your weekly routine.
Finally, try to schedule some time just to have fun and take time for relaxation.