Reducing Stress for a Healthy Heart

Andy Bauer—Ohio AgrAbility Program Educational Coordinator

Fall harvest is complete in most areas of Ohio, and fall tillage is also completed in a lot of the state. Welcome rain has fallen across the state. However, farmers may continue to experience stress related to marketing this crop with current prices, year end financial planning, planning for next years crop and the upcoming cold weather. Farming consistently has one of the highest rates of deaths due to stress-related conditions such as hypertension and heart disease.  Stress makes the heart beat faster, preparing the body for action. However, prolonged high levels of stress can cause high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, damage to arteries and higher cholesterol levels.

I asked participants in some AgrAbility presentations, “What is your most valuable tool on your farm?” and I generally heard the response, “The big tractor, planter, or combine.” On a dollar basis, these pieces of equipment are very valuable, but in reality your body and health are more valuable than all the other tools combined. Farmers perform regular maintenance on their equipment and try to keep it in good operating condition. However farmers don’t always keep up the maintenance on their own health. Seeing a doctor on a regular basis and following their advice will help to reduce some stress. Other suggestions for managing stress include:

·      Begin to take note of things that cause you to feel stressed.

·      Accept the fact that you may not be able to control everything.

·      Take time out each day to relax.

·      Maintain a healthy lifestyle through exercising, eating healthy and getting enough sleep.

·      Plan your day and prioritize what needs to be done.

·      Set realistic goals and expectations.

·      Avoid the “what ifs” and focus on what you do not know or can control.

·      Control stress during long work hours or activities by taking a relaxation break or short walk, get out and stretch your legs if you have been sitting on equipment for an extended period of time.

·      In cold weather, plan your day and avoid overexertion when doing tasks.

For more information about the Ohio AgrAbility Program visit or contact Andy Bauer, Ohio AgrAbility Educational Coordinator, at or call 614-247-7681.