Tools for Managing Stress on the Farm

By: Adrienne DeSutter

Tools for Managing Stress on the Farm You’ve got 5 pairs of pliers, 12 screwdrivers, and 16 wrenches to fix any problem that comes up on the farm. But how many tools do you have lying around to manage your stress? Here are a few stress-management tools to keep even the busiest farmer working properly:

Work-out While you Work: Exercise is one of the most common and effective tools to reduce stress, because it naturally manages the body’s chemicals that affect worry and happiness. But who has time for the gym during busy seasons? Try doing stomach crunches while sitting in the tractor. Jumping jacks or push-ups are great for when you take a restroom break to get your heart pumping. Turn up your favorite songs, because singing helps you pull in oxygen and increases aerobic activity.

1-minute Animal Therapy: Did you know that playing with animals has been proven to reduce stress? Before heading home, take 60 seconds to pet the cows or run around with the chickens. Feeding doesn’t count; let this visit be voluntary and just for fun. Bonus points if you can get them to do something funny, as hearty laughter reduces stress, too!

You Grow it, Now Eat it: Skipping meals might sound like a good idea when you’re in a rush, but hunger can make you irritable. Pack a lunch the night before, let your family drop off a meal, or throw a box of granola bars in your vehicle. Kick up the carbs, vitamins B and C, calcium, and omega-3s to level out your stress hormones.

Accept and Acknowledge: After a tough Spring, it’s completely normal to feel stressed or frustrated, and it’s ok to simply acknowledge what’s going on in your body and mind instead of fighting it. Pay attention to the knots in your stomach or the grumpiness you wake up with, remind yourself that this is what stress looks like for you, and trust that you will feel better in time. And if you don’t…

Respect Yourself and Reach Out: What do you do when you can’t get your equipment to work? You tinker with it, try everything you can to fix it, and eventually seek help if you can’t figure it out. Your body is your most important piece of equipment. Reach out to someone if you can’t seem to get back to normal. This could be a text, call, or visit with a friend, family member, coworker, or pastor. Your family doctor can help connect you with a therapist, or you can visit to find a behavioral health center in your area. Therapists are trained to help you feel understood and set up an action plan that best suits you. You’d never refuse to ask a vet for help to keep your animals well; give yourself the same respect and seek help.

You know which tools in your toolbox are your favorites, and which ones you can scrap. Try out these stress-management tools to find what works best for you, and share the others with a neighbor. And like all of your tools, the more you use them, the less likely they’ll rust!