By Jessica Forbes, Farm Again Staff
Farming and ranching are stressful occupations. Technological changes, money management and the changing face of livestock and crop production all add stress, especially during times like seeding and harvest. Farmers are accustomed to being especially independent, proud, and self-reliant, both as individuals and as family units. These are positive and desirable traits as they take on a life that entails hard work, dedication, a stewardship of the land, and living with great uncertainties such as weather, market prices, interest rates, and national policy. However, it can be these very traits that make it difficult for farm families to reach out when they come up against a substantial amount of stress.
Stress is defined as a response to a demand that is placed upon you. Without some stress, people would not get a lot done. Although a certain amount of stress can be positive, if you cannot return to a calm state, then the stress becomes destructive. The changes that stress causes in your body (increased heart rate, higher blood pressure and muscle tension) start to take their toll, often leading to mental and physical exhaustion and illness. Too much stress can cause problems and affect your health, productivity and relationships.
Chronic stress can impact your immune system, which lowers your ability to ward off illnesses. The following components are part of a wellness lifestyle approach that can help you control stress.
Attitude - The way you think about things can make all the difference in how you react to events. Changing the way you think can help you
manage stress in your life. Each time something happens in your life, the information about that event enters your mind. You interpret it by forming beliefs about what the event means, why it happened or how it is going to affect you. While you can’t always control the events that happen, you can control the way you think and feel about them.
Healthy Eating - Good nutrition and healthy eating habits can help you through your stressful times now, not just prevent a heart attack 30 years down the road. Eating well will increase your physical, mental, and emotional stamina. Fueling yourself with nutrient-dense foods can boost your immune system, help you maintain a healthy weight and help you feel better about yourself.
Healthy Relationships - Relationships can be a source of stress and at the same time, be a coping mechanism for dealing with stress. Either way, you need people in your life that care about you and will let you lean on them in times of adversity. Being assertive by claiming and expressing your experiences, your feelings, your wants and your rights, can reduce stress. People who are assertive feel comfortable
asking for help, saying “no” to others, stating a unique opinion, making requests, and expressing both positive and negative feelings.
Sleep - Consistent sleep is vital for a healthy life. Although everyone needs varying amounts of sleep, if you do not get enough sleep, everything from your immune system to your ability to learn and remember information will be negatively affected. Sleep is as important as nutrition and exercise when preparing for peak performance.
Spirituality - Spirituality means finding personal meaning in your life, feeling connected to others, and achieving your full potential. Ways to explore your spirituality…
•Attend activities at your church
•Volunteer to help others
•Learn a new skill or craft
•Keep a journal