May is Mental Health Month
Stress affects us all. Maybe you are coping with a difficult relationship, having a hard time managing finances or trying to home school your kids while farming or working off the farm. These situations may be different but knowing how stress affects you and how to manage it can help.
How Stress Affects You
First, it is important to note that not all stress is bad. Everyone will face short-term stress from time to time. If your stress doesn’t ebb and flow but remains at a high level for a long period of time you may be experiencing chronic stress. Chronic stress can impact our decision-making ability, mental and physical health and relationships with our family and friends.
Some ways to identify whether you may be experiencing chronic stress:
- Heart races
- Changes in appetite
- High blood pressure
- Muscle cramps
- Upset stomach
- Feel like you are in a fog
- Easily angered
- Feeling depressed
- Trouble making decisions
- Withdraw from people
- New or increased drug, alcohol or tobacco use
If you or someone you know is dealing with chronic stress, don’t be embarrassed or ashamed. The Wisconsin Farm Center staff are uniquely trained to assist farmers and to understand the stress that farmers face. Seek out tools, resources and other information to help address the stress you’re facing before it severely impacts your life.
Call the Wisconsin Farm Center at 800.942.2474.
Managing Stress – How to take care of yourself physically and emotionally
You wouldn’t fuel your equipment with low grade fuel, so why feed yourself junk food and soda? Eating a healthy diet is not only good for you, but it also makes you feel good too. Plan meals ahead of time to have healthy food choices during busy times of the year.
Farming is a physically demanding job so it can be easy to sit down in the easy chair whenever a free moment presents itself. Find time, even during the busy seasons, to take a few minutes to walk or engage in another form of exercise you find enjoyable. It doesn’t need to be an all-out effort, just something to get your heart pumping and take your mind off the farm for a few minutes.
We’ve all heard the saying laughter is the best medicine. If you’re experiencing something particularly stressful have a lighthearted conversation with a friend or watch your favorite comedian on TV or the internet.
Avoid Unhealthy De-Stressing
Unfortunately, folks under too much stress may turn to drugs, alcohol or tobacco. While these substances may lead to temporary relief of stress, increased use and dependence and can damage relationships with friends and family or lead to farm or roadway incidents.
*Information taken from farms.extension.wisc.edu/farmstress/stress-management.
“The rollercoaster of market fluctuations forced a balancing act for farmers: ensuring they made decisions that preserved their position as stewards of the land and their animals while fighting to maintain a financial position that would situate their farm business to continue into the future. As I crunched numbers with farms we were grasping at straws—how could we calculate a return on investment when the milk price could fluctuate so much, not to mention the question of whether there would be a market for that milk? I am constantly challenging and questioning myself to ensure the resources I develop for farmers take into account as many factors as possible; my success is rooted in their success, and I feel that deeply.” – Taliah D.
“Farming is so dependent on the weather and it can lead to a lot of stress. I often say, ‘If you can control the weather, you’re closer to God than me.’” – Stan K.
Wisconsin Farmer Peer Support Groups
The Wisconsin Farm Center is hosting free, virtual farmer-led support groups. There are two options to choose from, one for farmers (offered as an afternoon or evening session) and another for farm couples. You may remain anonymous by signing in with only your first name and keep your camera turned off. If you’re curious what these groups are about, tune into the next session. The afternoon farmer support group meets the first Tuesday of each month while the evening support group meets the fourth Monday of each month. The farm couple support group meets the third Thursday of the month.
To learn more or to register, visit datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Growing_WI/FarmCenterOverview.aspx.
Heroes of Hope
Heroes of Hope is an effort under the Farm Neighbors Care campaign focused on shedding light on rural heroes who have helped others through a tough time, i.e., helping harvesting crops while going through a tough time, providing positivity in their day-to-day careers, uplifting other farmers to get through a tough season, etc. Heroes of Hope aims to identify those who have helped to bring hope to farmers or businesses, either in large or small ways. Members of the agriculture community are encouraged to nominate individuals who have made an impact on the way they conduct business, both ordinarily and extraordinarily.
Key aspects of this program:
- 91 percent of rural adults say mental health is important to them and their family.
- 31 percent of rural adults have personally sought help for a mental health condition, and 24 percent have a family member who has sought care for a mental health condition.
- A 2017 study revealed that farmers and ranchers had a suicide rate that was, on average, 3.5 times that of the general population.
- Farming can be an isolating career; the Farm Neighbors Care campaign asks rural residents to have face-to-face conversations with fellow farmers and agri-business owners, providing a dose of positivity to their day.
- Be a part of the solution and help end the stigma around mental health.
Heroes of Hope will recognize one grand prize winner and four runner’s-up with prize packages from local sponsors.
To nominate someone for this award, visit bit.ly/HeroesofHope2021.