Coping with stress on the farm

foggy corn field

A wet spring, delayed planting, depressed commodity prices, bills, family obligations, and the non-stop to-do list are among the many stresses you are facing.

Many of these are out of your control and the worries can lead to potentially serious negative impacts to your health and well-being.

It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress in yourself or someone you know. If you experience these on an infrequent basis, you may not need to be concerned. However, you should be concerned if these are chronic.

Consider the following signs of stress provided by the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center at the University of Minnesota:

Behavioral signs

Stress can cause changes in your normal behaviors. Do you worry about things you didn’t before? Have you noticed a lack of interest in things that once brought joy? Are you having difficulty concentrating, experienced confusion, or being forgetful?

Do you find yourself having to think about how to do things (like milking cows) that you have done routinely for years?

Have you noticed a change in your relationship with spouse/children/business partners? Has it become more difficult to make decisions or take actions? Are you feeling sad, anxious, irritable, or had negative thoughts?

Have friends and family noticed you withdraw from being around them or participating in work, hobbies, or other activities? Has there been an increase in smoking or drinking?

Physical signs

In addition to the behavioral signals, you may experience physical changes if you are stressed.

Have your sleep patterns changed resulting in poor or disturbed rest? Are you experiencing changes in your appetite, weight, or gastrointestinal problems?

Other physical signs of stress may include clenching or grinding your teeth and poor hygiene.

Resources for dealing with stress

Many communities have personnel and services that can be of great help to a person experiencing stress. If you are unaware of services that may be available locally, please refer to the list of resources provided here:

Ohio 211: dial 211 from any phone for a free referral and information helpline that connects people to a wide range of health and human services, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services: providers listed by county

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273 TALK (8255)

Stress coping methods

Introduction to Mindfulness

Cultivating Resiliency for Women in Agriculture

Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health

What to do

What can you do if you recognize the signs and symptoms in yourself or someone you know? You don’t have to be a trained counselor to help yourself or others.

If you’re feeling these stress signals, please reach out for help! Talk with a loved one to discuss how you are feeling and what you are thinking.

Close friends, clergy members, and medical providers can be a good ear to listen and allow you to vent. These people may not be trained counselors, but can help you seek professional advice.

If someone you know, whether a friend or family member, comes to you to talk about their situation, take the time to listen, evaluate, and do everything possible to get this person assistance. Listen attentively and without judgment — be empathetic and try to understand the situation.

Share your concerns about his/her behavior, mood, appearance, or anything else you have observed. Ask questions about the changes you have observed. Ask if they have thoughts of suicide.

Encourage them to reach out to trained personnel and services to get needed help.

Nearly every farm and farm family is experiencing additional stress right now. You are not alone. It is not a weakness to recognize your struggles and reach out to someone you trust.

The issues causing stress may be out of your control, but you can control your reaction to the situation. Recognize your situation and seek help to develop a plan.


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  1. Farmers and ranchers are facing major challenges from weather, economic, stress, and numerous other factors. A group of Nebraskans have informally organized as Agricultural Safety Council of Nebraska.
    We are prompting awareness, education and safety based upon hazardous factors and conditions on farms and ranches. Each year those individuals endanger themselves to tractor accidents, grain bin hazards, livestock threats and harm, electrical unsafe practices. This year there have been to many NEBRASKA DEATHS FROM TRACTOR ACCIDENTS, DROWNINGS, AND OTHERS. STRESS CAN CAUSE HEALTH PROBLEMS AND SIGNS NOTICED BY FAMILY, FRIENDS, CLERGY, AND OTHERS NEED TO BE SENSITIVE TO THOSE WE LOVE AND CARE ABOUT.

  2. Ed,

    Thank you for sharing this information. What your group is doing is important and I wish you the best.


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