A crashing stock market. Mounting weather concerns. Machinery breakdowns. Volatile markets. Tough financial decisions. Uncomfortable conversations with lenders. Information overload. Family quarrels. The list of ag-related stressors can go on and on.
Agriculture is a taxing occupation, so it is vital that farmers understand how to manage their stress level and reduce unwanted stress. Most of all, farmers should not ignore stress.
“Signs of stress are like the warning signs on your vehicle dashboard,” explains Sean Brotherson, family science specialist for North Dakota State University. “They indicate there’s a problem with your engine. So, you need to take steps to remedy what’s going on.”
Unhealthy patterns such as headaches, increased irritability, sleep difficulty, increased use of alcohol or drugs, communication difficulties and isolation are all signals to slow down and focus on wellness.
“If stress becomes chronic, it can adversely affect our physical well-being, thoughts and actions,” explain Glennis McClure, University of Nebraska Extension farm and ranch management analyst; and Cory Walters, University of Nebraska Extension grain economist.
Take steps to balance physical and mental wellness, which is vital to staying healthy and less accident-prone, McClure and Walters say.
McClure and Walters provide these suggestions for dealing with financial stress:
- Reach out and utilize resources that can help you analyze your financial position and provide assistance in planning ahead with proactive decision-making.
- Don’t rush decisions. Instead, make use of the decision aids that are available to you. Keep in mind that working through some of the financial stressors can take time.
- Seek advice from those who you know have faced similar situations and/or visit with professionals who can share and counsel you on how others successfully worked through financial difficulties.
- Keep open lines of communication with those who care and need to know about your farm’s financial situation. Don’t isolate yourself and keep financial woes and potential stress all to yourself.
- Take some time to revisit your goals and set new ones if needed. Utilize SMART goal setting that includes making your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Based. Involve integral family members in discussing and setting new goals together.
You owe it to your family and team to monitor and manage your stress signals.
“Health is the most important asset to any operation. If it is the most important asset, it also needs to be the most import-ant priority,” he says.
12 Tools for Your Wellness Toolbox in Times of Farm Stress from North Dakota State University
Disaster, Financial Shocks & Stress - You Aren’t Alone from the University of Nebraska
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Advice for Financially Stressed Farmers: Find advice below on how to create an offensive farm business strategy to push you in the profit zone.
Have ‘The Talk’ With Your Kids: Use farm financial stress as a learning opportunity for your children.
Farmers, Ranchers Have Ways to Manage Stress: Piled-up stress can lead farmers and ranchers to develop physical or mental health issues, but they can take steps to reduce stress and create healthy ways to manage it.