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  • Writer's pictureRachel Stevens

Dealing With Harvest Stress

Stress Management Harvest 2020

We are approaching what can be the most exciting and also one of the most stressful times of the year. Harvest is the culmination of months of planning, hard work, and overcoming growing season challenges. Many of us look forward to it and anticipate seeing the fruits of our labor. However, this year may be a little different than most. With additional stresses of worrying about the health of our families, friends, and communities, perhaps challenges with spouse’s jobs, and uncertainty about what this school year will look like for our students, this year, more than ever, it is important to focus on our health and self care. We wanted to use this blog post to provide some resources to help take care of your farm’s greatest asset—you.

1. First off we need to identify the signs of stress. The Do More Ag Foundation identifies these as some of the most common signs of stress during harvest:

· Headaches

· Frustration

· Irritability and short tempered

· Impatience

· Forgetfulness

· Fatigue

· Withdrawing from others

· Overeating/neglecting diet

· Difficulty sleeping

Ignoring any of these signs can lead to poor decision making and create a dangerous work environment for you and your employees.

2. Prioritize moving your body. You spend a lot of hours sitting in the combine, tractor, or truck seat. 2-3 times a day, turn off the equipment and spend 5-10 minutes walking stretching and spending some time out of the cab not working. Try not to think about work and use this time out of the tractor cab to also reset your brain.

3. Be serious about play. Make jokes with your team, listen to amusing podcasts in the combine, pick out something to do each day that you find fun. Act the way that you want to feel. Often times we think our actions are merely a reflections of our feelings. However, research has shown that the opposite is just as true. Many times our feelings are a reflection of how we are acting. Choose to act more jovial, lighthearted, and happy. Paste a smile on your face, and you might find that you start feeling more perky and responsive.

4. Keep things in perspective. Remind yourself of the success of previous harvest season. Think about the healthy and safety of your family. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can do, and appreciate the effort you have given.

5. Talk to a professional. Sometimes the best course of action is to find an individual you trust than can help you through a difficult time. We need to let go of the stigma in ag about asking for help. Asking for help helps us build balanced lives, successful farms, and happy families. Isn’t this all we are really wanting??

There are some really great resources out there. For immediate mental health needs, please contact one of these national hotlines:

Farm Aid Hotline 800-FARM-AID (327-6243) Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Eastern

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255) 24/7

2-1-1, a comprehensive hotline that connects callers with local resources

For other great resources:

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