NDSU Extension Service - Sargent County

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Life on the Farm When It’s All on the Line

farm stress photo cropped“On a scale from 0-10, what is your pain level?”  It’s a common question health care providers ask their patients, and they are usually referring to physical pain.

However, “wellness” encompasses not only our physical well-being, but also the dimensions of mental, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being.  What would your answer be if you were asked to rate your mental/emotional stress on a scale of 0-10?  

Farming is loaded with uncertainties.  Adverse weather, crop and animal diseases, regulations, low or volatile commodity prices, family dynamics, and financial worries can be constant.  

Because they are self-employed, farmers and ranchers often have no separation between home and work. Failure to be successful affects not only their business, but their whole lifestyle.

As stress builds, it can take a heavy toll on the farmer, and on the farm family.

Unfortunately, the focus farmers have on taking good care of their animals and crops is often more than what they do to take care in monitoring and managing their own mental and physical stress and fatigue.

The truth is, caring for your own health and wellness is as important as caring for your bottom line. 

“The price we pay by ignoring stress is far greater than the loss of time and effort it would take to address it,” is a statement made in Michigan State University’s video, “Why is Stress Management Useful for Farmers.” The video also explains using social support and three elements of mindset as stress management techniques.  The short, four-minute video can be found at http://www.canr.msu.edu/managing_farm_stress/

If you find yourself or someone you know beginning to exhibit unusual behavior such as lack of focus or motivation, uncharacteristic anger, social withdrawal, or alcohol abuse, there is a problem. 

It is important that the problem not be ignored or neglected.  It is important that the person not isolate.  It is important to get help.  Communication is key.  Call 2-1-1 for listening support, mental health issues, crisis and referral.  Emergency assistance is accessible by dialing 9-1-1.  Mediation services through the ND Department of Ag can be reached by calling 844-642-4752.

"Life Beyond Breaking Even:  Farm Economy Summit" is a two-day event on the farm economy, farm management options, managing stress and pursuing wellness in times of tight farming margins.  It is scheduled to be held January 29-30 in Bismarck, with advance registration available until January 24.  More details and registration information is available at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/farmranchstress.

Finding reliable information on the internet is more likely if you filter your internet searches by adding “site:edu” after the words you type into the search window.  (Don’t use the quotation marks.)

For more information on this topic and links to other resources contact me at cindy.klapperich@ndsu.edu (701-724-3355, ext. 5), or visit reliable sites such as:

            https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/farmranchstress

            http://www.canr.msu.edu/managing_farm_stress/

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