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Stress time is coming

One of the key things with the dairy industry is it is a 24/7 business. Every waking hour can be filled with milking cows, feeding out, tractor work, topping, computer work and so on. There are further pressures on farmers as well such as financial issues and balancing your family life, as such stress levels can get incredibly high.

It is important to realize that stress is an integral part of your life. It is often stress that wakes you in the morning and motivates you. The answer is to successfully manage your stress. Continual un-managed stress however, is not good and it can manifest in a number of ways.

Signs

What are some of the signs of stress?
  • Moodiness There are often swings from ecstatic to low in a very short time
  • Volatility The person may flare up over small things
  • Violence Anger displayed towards animals and sometimes the family
  • Lethargy The person may sit around watching television between milkings feeling tired
  • Unmotivated A lack of the drive and initiative once held
  • Low self-esteem A feeling of unworthiness and uselessness when comparing oneself with others

These are not gender sensitive and as such can affect both men and women.

Symptoms of long-term stress are more complicated and may include sleeplessness, neck and back aches, change in the chemical make-up of the blood, bad breath, not to mention lack of libido.

Effects

Stress can result in a rapid fall off in performance, energy and so on.

Decision making abilities can be affected resulting in ill-considered business decisions, which can have catastrophic effects. A friend of mine, during a matrimonial break up was taking medication to help him sleep. He consequently made a series of very bad decisions, which effectively cost him $2million.

Management

Often people who suffer from stress have a lack of support. Farmers who work alone are unable to talk to their neighbours or friends and often think they can cope on their own causing the burden to increase. Women however often talk to others therefore unburdening themselves more readily. Clearly the old adage "a problem shared, is a problem halved" is very true.

Going down the farm and hiding behind the hedge will not solve the problem.

In the dairy industry, one of the major issues is long working hours, rising early to milk and not having time off. Our company encourages our clients to have at least one milking per week and one weekend per month off. This gives the farmers something to look forward to and takes the constant pressure away.

Learning New Skills

Problem Solving

Learning how to work out ways to solve problems is an important skill that will help you cope better and reduce stress. In general, it involves the following steps:
  • Work out exactly what the problem is.
  • Think of several different ways to solve the problem.
  • Work out the good points and bad points of each idea in turn.
  • Decide which plan will be best for you to do.
  • Follow your plan, and solve the problem step by step.

Sometimes people feel as though they are worrying all the time. If you feel this is happening, try to use the problem solving approach outlined above. You could also try setting a "time limit" on your worrying – e.g. let yourself worry about something for 20 minutes, and when that 20 minutes is up it is time to "switch off" the worrying and go and do something you enjoy.

Put the problem back in the drawer and close the drawer. Don't worry about it until you get the problem out again for another 20 minute "worry". Remember 98% of the things we worry about never happen.

Solutions

If you are stressed, tired and grumpy here are some possible solutions:
  • Visit your GP, he/she may recommend medication and/or counselling.
  • Consult with a Counsellor and talk through your problems. Often discussing problems can make a world of difference.
  • Get an independent person to sought through your finances and farming business to get a better balance in your work.
  • Seek the services of a suitably qualified psychologist who, possibly unlike a counsellor, is likely to provide you with ongoing support and tools that can be used in the future to manage stress.

In summary

Stress is an integral part of our busy lives, particularly on a dairy farm over the next 4-5 months. You need to be aware for yourself and your team and put in place structures to manage the stress. If it gets out of control and some obvious symptoms appear, seek appropriate help. Overload can ambush your ability to think clearly and make logical decisions. We at Fraser farm Finance understand these issues and are happy to assist initially and then refer you on to appropriate professionals if necessary.


 

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