Managing Farm Stress (Sample News Release)

Farming is one of the 10 most stressful occupations in the United States, according to a recent study. Believe it or not - not all stress is bad. In fact, we need a certain amount of stress in our lives to keep us going. The key to effectively dealing with stress is BALANCE. The consequences of "too much stress" for a farm family may vary - from tension in family relationships - to poor operational decisions - to loss of life due to a farm accident. It is important to recognize things many farmers consider stressful, common symptoms of stress, and effective ways to manage stress. "Stressor" refers to the things that may cause stress; "stress" is the reaction you have to that stressor.

People experience stress in different ways. When faced with a stressful situation one may experience physical symptoms, such as a headache or stomach problems. Perhaps a person will become depressed or lose their temper - emotional symptoms. Behavior changes like overeating or increased use of alcohol can also be a reaction to stress. Typically, stress affects our relationships with others, such as difficulty getting along, because of irritability or feelings of sadness.

Farming has many ongoing situations that can cause stress. The most common stressors for farm families include finances, daily hassles, lack of control over the weather, work overload, and conflict in relationship issues.

Even under similar circumstances, farm family members vary in the amount of stress they experience. Some people may have many stressors, but experience low levels of stress because they have developed effective ways to cope. For others, however, pressures may exceed their coping resources and they may show signs of chronic stress.

The first step in managing stress more effectively is to recognize symptoms and decide to do something. Below are five "stress steps" - a simple starting place to keep your stress in check.

S top to take breaks; relax 20 minutes each day.
T alk about your stress with others.
E at 3 meals a day, while comfortable and seated.
P repare for stressful events; schedule time to unwind.
S trengthen your relationships with others; have FUN.

For more information or help in designing your personal stress management plan, contact:

Farm Partners Program
New York Center for Agricultural Medicine & Health
One Atwell Road, Cooperstown, NY
Phone 1-800-343-7527

Lisa Flachs, NYCAMH.

This public service announcement was produced by the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH), One Atwell Road, Cooperstown, New York 13326 - Ph# (607) 547-6023 or (800) 343-7527 in the northeast. Publication date: 1994.

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More