How to manage stress
Published 8:53 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2019
By JERRY LITTLE
Stress is a normal response to the demands of life. We all experience stress, and the results vary in intensity from being temporarily anxious to complicated illnesses.
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Farming is a high stress job. Market swings, bad weather, policy changes and day-to-day challenges create tension and uncertainty and are many times beyond our control. Coping with stressful situations takes practice, but it can become part of your routine.
First, remember that agriculture tends to be cyclical. What may seem insurmountable today, may be only temporary and will eventually pass. Think back on another particularly stressful time in your farming operation, and you will see that things improved.
Each of us has different responses to stress. Some people experience headaches, stomach problems or loss of appetite. Others overeat or avoid interaction with people. Stress also affects both the quality and quantity of sleep, resulting in excessive fatigue. Stress can cause tempers to flare, and relationships to suffer. Prolonged stress can lead to depression, high blood pressure and other chronic health conditions.
You can do several things to manage stress. First, know your signs of stress. When you begin to notice those signs, take action to reduce them. Start and end each day with a relaxation technique. This may be some slow, deep breathing, reading something uplifting or stretching exercises. These activities cue your body to produce good hormones to reduce stress. A warm shower before bed massages your body and relaxes tense muscles.
Laughter is really the best medicine. It releases endorphins, which are “feel good” body chemicals.
Plan your day, but build in some time for the unexpected. Exercise: a brisk walk helps the body relax. Better yet, play with your children, or grandchildren. Refrain from doing strenuous activities right before bedtime. Turn off the TV and the computer at least an hour before bed. The “blue light” emitted from electronic devices actually triggers your body to stay awake.
Communication is key to stress relief. Talk with your family or a friend about your stressors. Sharing the burden reduces the stress. Likewise, if a financial situation is creating stress discuss this with your banker or loan officer. Many times, they can work with you to develop alternative financial arrangements. Perhaps this is a good time to consider diversification or even downsizing until life settles down.
If these actions don’t seem to help, reach out to a health care provider or a trusted friend. Just talking it out sometimes helps. If not, there are other alternative prescribed treatments that can help you through the stressful period.
For more information about managing stress, contact the Boyle County Cooperative Extension Service.
Jerry Little is the county extension agent for agriculture/natural resources.