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5 steps to alleviate farm stress

Resources are available for ag producers dealing with depression. Plus, use this five-step strategy to cope with added stress on the ranch.

Amanda Radke

May 17, 2019

2 Min Read
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In recent weeks, the BEEF team has worked to bring awareness surrounding farming/ranching and mental health.

Many families are dealing with stress, depression and the traumatic loss of suicides. In a recent blog post, I shared resources to help people address this issue in their rural communities.

READ: On ag & depression — resources to help rural communities

We certainly can’t control market volatility, impacts of the ongoing trade war, depressed commodity prices or Mother Nature, but we can do some things to protect our businesses and weather these challenges.

READ: 13 tips to increase cash flow during agricultural downturn

When times are tough, it can be hard to maintain a positive attitude. However, I shared some tips for things we can do at home and in our communities to uplift our spirits.

READ: 4 things to do to promote happiness

At the risk of being repetitive, I want to once again blog about this important topic of mental health in agricultural families. With dairies closing, farmers unable to get in the fields and producers stuck in the middle of a fight between the United States and China, depression is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to acknowledge.

So what can we do to support our emotional well-being in tough times? For starters, we can work on eliminating, managing and warding off stress.

Related:Stuck in a rut? A letter could help the family ranch move forward.

Andrea Bjornestad, South Dakota State University Extension mental health specialist, recently shared a five-step approach to alleviating farm stress.

Bjornestad writes, “Farm stressors can come from many directions including the agricultural system, farm and family finances, mental and physical health challenges, and relationship difficulties. A healthy response to these challenges involves paying attention to the stressors within all of these areas and determining coping strategies that are useful in each area.”

Bjornestad’s five tips include:

1. Assess needs and impacts

“Any stressor can impact the individual, family, or farming operation,” she writes. “What is a need resulting from stress in your life? What is the size of the impact (manageable or not manageable)?”

2. Identify and access resources

“What resources are needed to help manage the stressor(s) you identified?” she asks. “Are the resources available to you? Resources can be tangible (knowledge, creativity, optimism) or material (money, land, equipment).”

3. Pursue good quality decisions

Summarizing her points, Bjornestad says decision-making should look at the benefits and costs with a focus on clarifying values, goals and options with the team or family.

4. Connect with sources of support

5. Use effective coping strategies

You can read the complete article, with a complete explanation of each bullet point, by clicking here. https://extension.sdstate.edu/sites/default/files/2019-01/P-00052.pdf

By the way, May is not only Beef Month, it is also Mental Health Month. Farm Progress has put together some resources to help agricultural producers deal with depression and stress.

Download the resource by clicking here.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

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