Bridget Britton, Behavioral Health Field Specialist
Each morning when waking up recently it feels as though we look out the window and it is either raining or has rained overnight. Farmers are natural meteorologists and are in tune with what is going on with the weather any given hour of the day. According to Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University Extension climatologist, there has been measurable rainfall all but 3 days so far in the month of April. Wet weather and planting delays are sources of additional stress. Though we can’t know for sure when the fields will dry up enough to plant, there are things you can do to keep some of the stress from overwhelming you.
• Get moving: This is normally when the physical activity starts ramping up. You might not be out busy in the fields yet but start prepping your body and mind now by doing whatever exercise you enjoy to get in the right mindset. This “exercise” might include working on equipment, cleaning your shop, or catching up on things you’ve been putting off.
• Make time for laughs: Have you ever heard laughter is the best medicine? Well, it might not be the best, but it can help. Make sure you find time to spend with your funny family member or employee. You know who they are.
• Stay away from unhealth coping mechanisms: If you are like me stress eating is easy to do, but instead of overeating try playing a game, calling a friend, or spending time with nature. An increase in unhealthy habits such as alcohol use can contribute to farm accidents, and could negatively impact you, your family, and your farm business.
• Take a look at long term goals and plans: Though you would rather be out in the fields, with all the rain this may be a good time to examine the future of the farm. Talk with family and employees about any improvements or goals you have for the future. Making sure everyone is on the same page is crucial. Often as planting season begins little time is left for any of these types of conversations.
• Help yourself and others during stressful times: Make time during the wet days and evenings for check-ins with family and friends. This can support not only them but you during this stressful time. No one should have to suffer alone if they may be feeling any type of anxiety or sadness. While you are waiting for the rain to pass this is a great time to spend some time off the farm and each other’s company.
Remember you are more than your farm. We need you to be healthy both physically and mentally. Reach out if you or someone you know may be struggling. There are resources available at go.osu.edu/farmstress or reach out to your local extension office. If someone is in crisis there is the free and confidential crisis line at 1-800-273-8255.
Brotherson, S. (2017). Stress Management for Farmers/Ranchers. Retrieved from https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/kids-family/farm-stress-fact-sheets-stress-management-for-farmers-ranchers.
Donham, K. J., & Thelin, A. (2016). Agricultural Medicine: Rural Occupational and Environmental Health, Safety, and Prevention. (2nd ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
Edenfield, T. M., & Blumenthal, J. A. (2011). Exercise and stress reduction. The handbook of stress science: Biology, psychology, and health, 301-319.
National Institute of Mental Health (2016). Depression. Retrieved from www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression.