SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Farming can be stressful, particularly during difficult times like drought, bushfire and flood.
- Long-term stress can damage your health, personal life and contribute to farm accidents. Stress needs to be recognised, understood and managed.
- Understand your stress triggers and develop your coping skills (this needs practice).
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle, find things that make you happy, rest, relax and take a few breaths before you respond to a stressful situation
Living and working in rural Australia can be very rewarding. However, farming can also be . There are the everyday issues of family life, , planning for the future and keeping up with developments in your area of farming. The added pressures of managing a farm during difficult times like extreme climatic events, market fluctuations or natural disaster can sometimes seem overwhelming. Social isolation and working long, irregular hours can make this harder to cope with.
including the , memory, the ability to fight off infection, cardiovascular health, and gut problems. Everyone reacts differently to potentially stressful situations. This can depend on your personality, the extent of your support network or other things that are going on in your life.
Keeping yourself in a fit state to enjoy the good times is very important. Keeping yourself fit to weather the difficult times is even more important. A small amount of stress can help keep us motivated and actually improves our performance and productivity. However, persistent high levels of stress can have a negative impact on your physical and mental wellbeing, your performance and, ultimately, your farming business.
- Think about your thinking: Consciously focus on identifying and halting unhelpful patterns of thinking (e.g. ‘I will never get this job done’) and replace this with helpful thinking patterns (e.g. ‘This job might take me a while, but if I break it into chunks and get someone to give me a hand, I can get it done’).
- Talk positively to yourself: Instead of getting annoyed and irritable when things go wrong, tell yourself you won’t let this get to you. Try it, it works.
- Talk to your friends: Chances are you’re not the only one who feels the way you do, and talking may help you find solutions you hadn’t thought of on your own.
- Talk to a professional: If you feel you need a hand, talk to an expert (for farm tasks as well as your own personal wellbeing). If there are not many services in your area, or you’d prefer something more private, there are confidential phone lines and online services you can use to support your social and emotional wellbeing.
- Talk to your pet: They are always pleased to see you and great listeners! While pets may not have the answers, often the process of talking about a challenge can help identify solutions.
- Write a list: Sometimes thinking of all the jobs you need to do can seem overwhelming. Writing a list and prioritising tasks can increase your sense of control. Make sure you tick off items and reward yourself as you achieve them!
- Don’t avoid making decisions: Stress can lead to poor decision making or—worse still—failure to make any decisions. Seek information and make decisions early to ensure you have options in difficult times.
- You need to look after yourself, it’s a critical important element of looking after your farming business.
Improve your health
Some key things to reduce stress and improve your health include:
- Eat healthy, nutritious food
- Get adequate and keep a regular sleep routine
- Make time to get away from the farm
- Find things to laugh about
- Allow yourself time to do something you enjoy
- Keep socially connected.
These are things that we often forget when we are feeling stressed, but they are the very things that can help us get through a stressful period.
Some tips for managing stressful times in your farming business:
- Make a list of people and services you can call on for information and assistance
- Break large tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks which you can then prioritise in order of importance
- Keep the lines of communication open—schedule regular farm business meetings and don’t avoid making decisions
- Celebrate and reward success, even small wins should be acknowledged
- Keep in touch with farming groups and industry networks—they are sources of information and social contact
- Schedule time away from the farm—taking a break gives you fresh perspective, renewed energy and improved decision-making power.
Where to get help
- Customer Service Centre Tel.
- This way up – online ‘’ program developed by the Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression (CRUfAD) at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney and University of New South Wales (UNSW) Faculty of Medicine
- – a free online treatment and assessment service for anxiety and depression
- – a free online tool kit to help farmers cope effectively with life’s challenges and get the most out of every day
- Tel. 1800 18 SANE ()
- , 2008, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety and RIRDC, Canberra.
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