Working in agriculture is accompanied by managing a variety of stresses on a regular basis. Sean Brotherson, NDSU Extension family life specialist, joins Sound Ag Advice to discuss how farmers and ranchers can manage their stress in healthy ways.
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Episode Summary: Working in agriculture is accompanied by managing a variety of stresses on a regular basis. Sean Brotherson, NDSU Extension family life specialist, joins Sound Ag Advice to discuss how farmers and ranchers can manage their stress in healthy ways.
Speaker 1: Kelli Anderson, NDSU Agriculture Communication Specialist
Speaker 2: Sean Brotherson, NDSU Extension Family Life Specialist
Kelli: This is Sound Ag Advice, a weekly feature presented by NDSU Extension. I'm Kelli Anderson, and I'm joined today by Sean Brotherson NDSU Extension family life specialist. Today we're going to be talking about how North Dakota farmers and ranchers can have a lot of stress in their lives. Sean, can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Sean: Yeah, stress conditions are not unusual for people working in the field of agriculture, there's research that shows it's one of the more high stress occupations that somebody can work in. But there may be particular times when stress levels increase, and sometimes substantially. Usually, that's because of conditions like weather difficulties, we've seen drought conditions across the state that have been challenging during the past year, contributing to that, and also when prices and agriculture have dropped from higher levels, and that's putting a squeeze on farmers and the value that they're getting for their commodities at the marketplace.
Kelli: Now, Sean, we know that working in agriculture can be stressful. But sometimes stress goes beyond just general symptoms, what are some of the symptoms of stress, when it's unmanageable?
Sean: When they're stressed in agriculture, it doesn't just stop in the field, it tends to travel with the person into the home and into their relationships, and even to how they're feeling physically.
One of the characteristics of people working in agriculture is that they tend to be self-reliant, proactive individuals who can get something done. But the tendency to kind of go it alone, when you're facing challenges that seem beyond your control, sometimes is not helpful when you're dealing with stress. And so, we see affects in areas like how finances are being managed within the family, we see it in their emotional responses, we see it in their physical health and well being. And we often see it in the quality of their relationships, all of those can be affected by higher stress levels.
Kelli: What are some ways that farmers can control stressful situations in their life, especially around the farm?
Sean: That's a great question. One of the first things that they can do is identify and then access resources that are available to them. And they need to think about the individuals in their lives that they can talk to that they can trust. Simply communicating with somebody is helpful to be able to express your feelings, and also generate ideas about options or strategies that you might take. So that's one of the first things that they can do.
Avoiding withdrawal, as a mechanism of dealing with stress is really important. Instead, dealing proactively with things by communicating about, you know, where are things what the financial situation or what are important decisions coming up that we need to make, or if someone is experiencing stress, and they're feeling it physically, they're having difficulty sleeping, or having headaches, tension, things like that. They need to talk about that with someone in their family or community they can trust and then access local resources, that may be their physician, it may be a counselor, but it's really important to communicate about what they're feeling and then what are the resources that can be of support to them.
Kelli: You mentioned local resources, what are some of the resources that we have available through NDSU Extension?
Sean: For individuals who may be in the field of farming and ranching, often they can talk with their local county Extension agent who will have expertise or the ability to connect them with resources in their community or that are available through Extension. They can just Google NDSU Extension and drought stress or NDSU Extension and farm stress. We have a series of educational bulletins and resources they can access which provide detailed information on managing stress.
Kelli: Great information for our North Dakota farmers and ranchers who might be dealing with stress in their lives. Our guest today has been Sean Brotherson, NDSU Extension family life specialist. This has been Sound Ag Advice, a weekly feature presented by NDSU Extension.