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Managing farm family stress

When times get tough, and the world feels heavy, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. When there is a lot of work to get done, farmers tend to be away from their families more, especially during planting and harvesting seasons. There’s no doubt that the family is affected by the farmer being absent.

Talk it out

Being open to talking with your family about stress and all the things going on in each other’s lives is important. Acknowledging each other’s feelings can go a long way to relieving worry. And open, honest conversations can reassure everyone that things are going to be alright, even if they don’t feel that way now.

Some conversation starters:

  • Highs and lows of your day.
  • Describe your day in three words.
  • What did you do during your day?
  • What is one thing you did for yourself today?
  • Did you help anyone today, did anyone help you?
  • Is there anything you wish you would have done differently?
  • One thing that made you smile.

Make time for each other

While finding quality time to be with your family can be hard, it’s still important to make time for each other. Show up and do the simple things. Try to be home to have dinner together. Your schedules may interfere, but making time and prioritizing being with each other is key.

Another way to stay close during time apart is by ending the day together. Although the late hours that come with farming can make evenings stretch well into the night, spend some time together before going to bed.

Know what brings joy

Find out what makes each of you happy and find ways to make those things happen for each other. Gather together and ask:

  • What makes you happy when you are sad?
  • How do you want to be approached when you are sad or mad?
  • What are two things that bring you joy?
  • What are your favorite foods?
  • Do you enjoy acts of kindness or service?
  • What are ways you feel loved?
  • What is your favorite family tradition?

Recognize stress in others

Farmers sometimes bring their stress back to the family. It’s better to process your thoughts and emotions and try not to keep them in. Recognize your signs of stress and know who you can talk to about it. Who in your family or social network is best equipped to be there for you? Family members also can learn to recognize the signs of stress and how to cope with their own feelings while offering support.

These are some signs of prolonged stress:

  • Changes in routine.
  • Changes in personal appearance.
  • Lack of attention to the state of the home.
  • Increase in illness.
  • Increase in farm accidents.

To help reduce your stress make sure you are focusing on your physical, mental and emotional health. It’s important to look for balance and take time for self-care.

Take care of the kids

Children and young people are also affected by family-member stress as well as their own stress. When adults are dealing with all the unknowns, kids often feel the weight of it. Here’s a good resource on how to identify and engage with your kids about stress.

Sometimes there is no substitute for speaking to a mental health professional. Therapy can be a good option for you or your family. Our resources for difficult times include referrals to crisis and ongoing providers.

Author: Meredith Taylor

Reviewed in 2022

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