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By Rebecca Simon, program associate, family and consumer science
For several years, farmers have faced increasingly high levels of stress as markets
tanked, weather destroyed crops, and hard work and long hours proved inadequate to
Now, COVID-19 adds one more burden to an already heavy load.
Producers, their families and local businesses are facing heavy stress from the virus.
Stress is made apparent in a variety of ways as a person responds physically, mentally
or emotionally to existing pressures or concerns. Each person is affected differently
and becoming familiar with common ways stress affects a person is helpful.
Each person who is affected by stress may respond physically, mentally or emotionally
in different ways to such pressures. Conducting regular “self-checks” is important
to be aware of your own experience with stress and what steps you can take to stay
out of the “high stress” zone.
Signs of stress are warning signals, like the flashing red light on the dashboard of a car, that are warning you to pay
attention, slow down and take steps to check for difficulty. These warning signals
can occur in the physical, emotional, behavioral and relationship dimensions of a
Having a process that you can use in managing the pressures that impact your family,
your farming operation and your life in general is helpful. The Managing Rural Stress
Model is designed to provide you with a process for thinking about the different stressors
you may experience and strategies for managing them more effectively.
The five steps are: (1) assess needs and impacts, (2) identify and access resources,
(3) pursue good-quality decisions, (4) connect with sources of support and (5) use
effective coping strategies.
A final step in the process of managing stress requires a person to think about the
strategies for using resources or coping with stresses that can be used and whether
they are effective.
Among coping priorities, a few should receive emphasis. These will enable the individual
farmer or rancher to cope better through time.
For more resources on managing stress, check out our Life Skills and Wellness page.