The past 25 years — with low commodity prices, rapidly escalating farm expenses, shifting global markets, and extreme climatic problems including drought, floods, cold springs, hot summers — have been challenging for Wisconsin farmers. Gross farm income has been down and farm expenses have escalated. Many farmers have struggled “to stay up in a down economy” and “to farm in a depressed environment without getting depressed.”
You can use a number of approaches to stay up in a down economy, including the following eight strategies. Try one or two strategies today ... the more you use, the greater your likelihood of dealing with stress.
Watch what you ingest
Farmers don’t always eat right, especially during spring planting season and harvest times when they are in a hurry to get the work done…while the sun is shining or before the snow flies. Coffee and rolls or soda and candy bars frequently become the norm during these crunch times. A diet of empty calories like this can result in caffeine and sugar “highs” and the “lows” that follow. If you find that you need more and more coffee, donuts, soda, candy bars and chips to “keep your energy up” you are probably addicted to these empty calories. You should consider a major change in your diet. Some simple guidelines are in order: get a good breakfast and at least one other balanced meal each day, cut back on caffeine and highly refined carbohydrates, cut back on saturated fats, get plenty of fruit and vegetables and include fiber in your diet. This diet will result in sustainable energy levels rather than the “peaks and valleys” that will eventually cause “energy crashes” and depressed moods.
Get regular exercise
Farmers frequently say “I get plenty of exercise on the farm,” and there was a time when farmers did get plenty of exercise. But today, farmers use barn cleaners, silo unloaders, mechanical feeding equipment, gravity-fed grain handling equipment, and tractors for moving large hay bales. In short, a lot of the backbreaking exercise that was a normal part of farm life has been replaced by mechanized technology. A lack of exercise can cause headaches, backaches, depressed moods, anxiety attacks and insomnia. Fortunately, there are fairly simple ways to get more exercise:
Walk whenever you can. Walk from the farmstead to the field and from the far end of a parking lot to your church or implement dealer’s door. Take a walk with your spouse in the early morning or after lunch.
Do stretching exercises to stretch out all of the muscles between your head, neck, shoulders and lower back. Tense muscles cause many headaches and backaches and stretching exercises can prevent this problem.
Jog, swim, go for a bike ride, shoot buckets, or do other kinds of exercise that help you keep your body fit and your mind sharp.