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Published June 17, 2013, 10:36 AM

Weather creating stress

As weather issues hamper farming efforts, farmers, agricultural professionals and family members are facing many stresses. The hours they must spend dealing with weather stresses can be long, continuous and exhausting.

As weather issues hamper farming efforts, farmers, agricultural professionals and family members are facing many stresses. The hours they must spend dealing with weather stresses can be long, continuous and exhausting.

“The emotional and physical needs of those who are undergoing stress from weather conditions are sometimes forgotten during a crisis,” says Sean Brotherson, North Dakota State University Extension Service family science specialist.

“They may not consider their own needs or they may be too occupied with other responsibilities to handle personal or family needs. Farmers sometimes try to be invulnerable to fatigue, stress, frustration and depression.

“Perhaps the demand on their energies is so great they think they can muddle through. However, farmers need help, encouragement and assistance in times of weather stress.”

Dealing with difficult times

Farmers, their family members and other agricultural workers need to take care of themselves to have the emotional and physical resources to deal with weather-related stresses.

Brotherson has these tips for the emotional and physical well-being of farmers and others:

• Get sufficient sleep.

• Eat well-balanced meals as much as possible.

• Set up and maintain a structured routine if possible.

• Learn to say no without feeling guilty during times of demand.

• Take time for stress breaks (10 minutes every couple of hours).

• Change your environment by taking short breaks.

• Realize when a situation or problem requires help from others.

• Delegate tasks to others or call for additional support if needed.

• Be aware of your energy limits and stop when these limits have been reached.

• Prioritize your time.

• Know your strengths and weaknesses.

• Communicate with people who understand your tasks.

• Practice optimism and humor.

“Farmers and other professionals or their family members can use help from people not directly affected by the weather conditions,” Brotherson says.

“Family members or community members, including mental health workers, can provide needed support to the farmers so they can get farming tasks accomplished in the time that is available. To help critical tasks get done in a time of stress, the load must be shared. Farmers and their families need to know that others are willing to stand with them and provide continuing support.”

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