Extension Ag Update
December 2008
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Articles

How to Cope with Stress on the Farm

Robert "Chip" E. Petrea, Extension Specialist, Farm Safety, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, (217) 333-5035, repetrea@uiuc.edu

Accidents are a major cause of death and injury among agricultural workers. A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health showed that farmers also have the highest rates of death as a result of stress-related conditions. Heart and artery disease, hypertension, ulcers and nervous disorders top the list of killers.

America's farmers and ranchers have to cope with more stress than the average worker. Droughts, floods, pests, long hours, financial concerns and other complications can lead to feelings of isolation and frustration.

Experts agree that there are steps people can take to help to cope with stress in their lives. These are not meant as "instant solutions." If one feels overwhelmed, there are many people and organizations available to listen and help.

To help reduce stress, the West Virginia University Extension Service and the National Safety Council suggest the following:

  • Acknowledge that stress exists in your life.
  • Don't minimize your reactions to stress. If you keep stress buried inside, it is likely to create mental and physical problems.
  • Talk about your problems with family, friends, clergy or professional counselors. This will help you clear your head and focus on eliminating or reducing anxiety and stress-related ailments.
  • Eat well-balanced meals and try to limit caffeine and alcohol intake. If you smoke, quit.
  • Get enough sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, try light reading or listening to relaxing music.
  • Keep all machinery in good condition. Eliminating possible breakdowns will help reduce stressful moments.

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