Tips for Dealing with Stress



URBANDALE, Iowa—The weather this spring and summer has created stressful situations for Iowa farming families. The cold, rainy weather has delayed planting of crops, damaged replanted crops and set the stage for spring stress to carry over into summer.  Margaret Van Ginkel, Iowa Concern hotline coordinator and family finance specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, recommends actions those feeling stressed can take to help prevent it from taking over their life.  

“First of all, talk things over with your spouse, a neighbor, friend, anyone,” said Van Ginkel. “Talking helps alleviate some of the stress and perhaps you will find that you are not the only one that is frustrated.”

Van Ginkel suggests calling the Iowa Concern hotline at 1-800-447-1985. Stress counselors answer calls and listen, keeping conversations strictly confidential. Iowa Concern is a service made available through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach that has been helping Iowans since the farm crisis in 1985. 

“Another sign of stress is not sleeping,” she said. “Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.” Getting the required amount of sleep is easier if you take these actions:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night.  
  • Keep sleeping area quiet and dark.  
  • Make sure not to eat or drink right before retiring at night.  

Thinking of all that needs to be done and can’t be done because of the weather can be very frustrating.  “Try prioritizing things that need to be accomplished,” Van Ginkel said. “Just because you can’t get into the field because of the weather doesn’t mean you can’t work on other things around the farm.”

She also recommends thinking positive and completing some of those unfinished tasks. Make lists of decisions that must be made within the next few weeks.  Determine the pros and cons for each of these decisions. “By putting them down in writing, it may help make decisions a little clearer and justified,” she said.

Farmers get lots of exercise, but it may not be the best kind.  To relieve stress Van Ginkel recommends creating some quiet time with a spouse to take a walk and listen to the birds, or get on bikes and take a spin around the section. Take the kids along, or even better get a competitive game of family badminton or volleyball going.  

Stress can really take a toll on individuals and families. Learning how to deal with it will make life much happier and coping with emotional ups and downs more manageable.    

Van Ginkel said it is most important to talk out your problems – call the Iowa Concern hotline at 1-800-447-1985 or seek professional counseling if needed.  The Iowa Concern website at www.extension.iastate.edu/iowaconcern/ has a live chat feature as additional way of talking with stress counselors.


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