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Managing Stress and Pursuing Wellness in Agriculture

Farming/ranching has long been one of the most stressful and dangerous occupations, but it also has its share of rewards and satisfaction. Farm stress can come from many directions, from unpredictable weather and falling net farm income, to the loss of a valuable animal and the increasing cost of health care. Some of the pressures that occur in agricultural industry are unique and beyond a person's control, which can be difficult and lead to feelings of frustration, helplessness and depression. 

Rural stress impacts the farming operation, individuals, families and communities. The information below can be helpful in identifying stressors, managing rural stress, identifying coping strategies and building a strong farm resource network.

Identifying Signs of Stress

Stress is the body's normal reaction to anything that disrupts normal life. Small amounts of stress can actually help us be productive and learn to manage stress better. However, many people learn to screen out unpleasant circumstances and related stresses. It's important to recognize the early warning signals of stress.

Recognizing Stress

The Farm/Ranch Stress Zone

Managing Your Stress

Recognizing early warning signs of stress is the first step to managing your stress. Being in tune with your body and in your relationships with others gives you the opportunity to take action before things get out of control.

Ways to Manage Your Stress

Managing Rural Stress Model

Stress Management for Couples (NDSU Extension)

Stress Management for Farmers and Ranchers (NDSU Extension)

Strategies for Coping

A helpful step in managing stress in farming and ranching is to consider the "tools" or "strategies" that are available for dealing with the stress. Often, we don't have the tool that would be most useful in our current toolbox, so we may need help getting if from someone else or learn how to use a new tool that works better. 

My Coping Strategies Plan 

Everyday Mindfulness

Family Talk: Farm and Ranch Families

Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services (K-State Research and Extension)

Build a Network of Support

Relationships that are important to you can help sustain you, particularly family relationships. Family and other relationships that are positive and healthy provide a large source of support, but they may become a drain if they are not maintained. 

My Farming Resource Network

When Generations Farm/Ranch Together (NDSU Extension)

Helping Others

Prolong, persistent stress can lead to symptoms of depression. A farmer dealing with ongoing financial stress, for example, could be at risk of developing clinical depression. Depression is one of the most under-recognized and under-treated conditions in any state. Untreated depression impairs a person's ability to function and can increase the risk of health problems and suicide. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Working with Distressed Clientele  (NDSU Extension)

Disaster's: Children's Responses and Helping Them Recover

CrossWinds Counseling and Wellness (Osage County Community Mental Health Center) 

Elizabeth Layton Center (Franklin County Community Mental Health Center)

Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center (Anderson County Community Mental Health Center)

Call 211: Statewide 24-hour helpline, health and human services information and referral

Opioid Addiction Information and Resources

The CDC reports that every day, approximately 100 farmers and agricultural workers incur injuries that prevent them from working, and one out of five has at some point received a prescription for opioids. Opioids can be an important and appropriate part of treatment for many people, but they can also be very dangerous and addictive. 

The Opioid Crisis: What You Need to Know 

Informational Postcard

USDA's Opioid Misuse in Rural America

Farm Bureau's #FarmTownStrong

Additional Resources

eXtension.org