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Changing Farm Stress to Farm Success

By Rachel Kraynick, P.Ag Farm Business Management Specialist

September 2017

It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it!

Although farming is a very rewarding occupation, it can also be one of the most stressful. The workload on most farms shows clear seasonal variations. Spring and fall are particularly busy with seeding and harvest. Calving season can be equally hectic and winter can bring its own unique set of problems. It is typical for stress levels to increase during the busy season, which can bring on an array of issues. Did you know that Saskatchewan has a Farm Stress Line?

Calls to the Farm Stress Line are answered by Mobile Crisis Services, a non-profit, community-based agency providing crisis intervention services in Saskatchewan since 1974. All calls are free and confidential (there is no Call Display on their phone lines) and they are available 24/7. If you’re experiencing any symptoms of stress, you can call the Farm Stress Line at 1-800-667-4442.  The Farm Stress Line can help by clarifying the problem or concern and work with you toward a solution. They can connect you with the appropriate organization, professional or program that best suits your needs and they will listen and support you in a safe, neutral and non-judgmental environment.

Some of the program areas that the Crisis Counsellors can help with include:

  • mental health (e.g. stress, depression, suicidal thoughts);
  • domestic violence;
  • teen-parent conflict;
  • senior abuse and neglect;
  • relationships;
  • parenting;
  • addiction;
  • grief;
  • custody;
  • child abuse and neglect;
  • youth issues (e.g. school, relationship with peers and parents); and
  • financial issues.

It is important to understand the difference between “stress” and “stressors.” Stress is how we react to the demands that are placed upon us and stressors refer to the demands encountered.  Stressors are outside us and are typically impossible to control, avoid or change. Stress is inside, which means it may be possible to control how you react to the situation. As Thomas Monson said, “We may not be able to control the wind, but we can adjust our sails”. 

Saskatchewan’s farm stress line released a report in 2017 stating that the top three farm issues identified by producers were:

  1. Financial concerns related to debt and cash flow
  2. Crops/Livestock issues
  3. Succession planning.

Other examples of potential stressors include things like weather, work overload, working with people or even keeping up with new technology.

Successful stress management suggests there are numerous things you can do to mitigate or manage the impact of potential stressors. For example, we can’t control the weather but we can implement farm risk management strategies, such as enrolling in insurance programs to protect the farm from devastating crop loss. Proper planning and goal setting in the areas of business strategy, finances, marketing, production economics, human resources, succession, environment and business structures is another way to mitigate stress. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Goals provide the energy for motivating our behavior. Without goals, life becomes an endless treadmill. Using professional consultants to help you properly plan in the areas stated above can give you a sense of control and preparedness for the farm future state.  Staying informed and knowledgeable is another avenue to strive for minimizing stress in your life. Also, learn to incorporate fun and laughter where you can. Maintaining a sense of optimism about the future and by placing things into perspective can provide comfort when faced with stressful situations.

It’s proven that stress has a correlation to many illnesses. Prolonged stress can lower your immune system and make you more susceptible to a wide range of illnesses.  Stress can also cause illness indirectly by altering a person’s behavior patterns (e.g. increased alcohol consumption or smoking). 

Besides going for regular checkups, eating properly, getting plenty of exercise and getting a good night’s sleep, it is important to recognize your limits and learn to say “no” to prevent overextending yourself.  

If you would like more information on changing farm stress to farm success, call your local Farm Business Management Specialist or our Ag Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.  Wishing all producers a safe and stress free harvest!

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