(Source: Penn State Ag Safety and Health) Use the following format to cite this article: Production agriculture and stress. (2016) Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice. Retrieved from http://articles.extension.org/pages/70313/production-agriculture-and-stress.
Farming and ranching can be stressful occupations, and that stress can have a multifaceted effect on a person. There are numerous uncontrollable factors, such as unpredictable weather, untimely equipment breakdowns, time constraints, and financial markets, that cause stress in the lives of farm families. Stress is a physical response to perceived life-threatening events. In an evolutionary sense, it allows us to determine whether we should stop and fight or flee from an external threat. Our brains do not recognize the difference between psychological or physical threats, and therefore our bodies respond in the same fashion to something we perceive as negative, overwhelming, or threatening, irrespective of the real risk to physical well-being. Each person reacts differently to stress, but some common symptoms of chronic stress include changes in a person’s sleep patterns, fluctuation in a person’s weight, fatigue, restlessness, and physical health conditions such as headaches, ulcers, or high blood pressure. Besides the physical effects, stress can also hinder interpersonal relationships at work and home.
Chronic and uncontrolled stress can be detrimental to your health and interpersonal relationships. It might not be possible to get rid of the things causing stress in your life, but there are things you can do to help manage the stress. The following are some simple ways that a person can decrease stress:
There are times when things get too difficult, and you might need professional help. Professional help can include your family physician or health care provider, a mental health professional, or a support group. Listed below are some signs that indicate that you should seek professional help:
For more detailed information, consult the following sources:
Production agriculture and stress. (2016) Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice. Retrieved from http://articles.extension.org/pages/70313/production-agriculture-and-stress.
Fetsch, R. (2011) Farming, ranching: Health hazard or opportunity? Colorado State University Extension. Retrieved from http://extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/consumer/10201.pdf.
Jolly, C. & Miller, L. (2004) Manage stress to increase farm safety. Safe Farm Promoting Agricultural Health and Safety – Iowa State University Extension. Retrieved from https://store.extension.iastate.edu/ItemDetail.aspx?ProductID=4617.
Webster, J. and Gonzalez, M. (n.d.) Mental health and stress management. Agricultural Health and Safety Fact Sheet AHS-09. Utah State University Cooperative Extension. Retrieved from http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/factsheet/AHS-09.pdf.
Weigel, R. (n.d.) Identifying stress on the ranch and farm. Agricultural Producers and Stress. University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service. Retrieved from http://www.wyomingextension.org/agpubs/pubs/B1124-4.pdf .