Managing Stress During Planting Season

As the wheels of planting season start turning, and our days stretch noticeably longer, it’s important to recognize the potential rise in stress levels that accompany this transition. It doesn’t take long for the weight of work to pile up, and it’s okay to admit when we’re not feeling quite like ourselves when this happens. This would be a natural response.

When stress starts creeping in, our first instinct might be to turn to what psychologists call ‘maladaptive coping mechanisms’—actions that offer temporary relief but ultimately worsen long-term stress and can harm our physical health. Essentially, these quick fixes can hinder our personal growth, make it harder to navigate future challenges, and actively prevent positive change.

For example, after a taxing day at work, we might find ourselves seeking comfort alone with a bag of chips, reaching for a beer in the fridge, or indulging in self-blame for not meeting our daily expectations. However, there’s a healthier alternative: embracing ‘adaptive coping strategies’. While they may require more effort and may not come as naturally, these tactics have positive effects on our well-being. And, just like any skill, the more we practice them, the easier they become.

This planting season, consider incorporating a few adaptive coping mechanisms into your routine—not only to cope with the tough days ahead but also to establish a healthier mindset for the long haul:

  1. Connect With Your Circle: Instead of retreating into solitude after a long day, challenge yourself to reach out to friends, family, or fellow farmers. Human connection, even when it seems like more work, can do wonders for improving our mood.
  2. Move Your Body For Fun: Despite the physical demands of farming, it’s important to take breaks to move your body in a way you enjoy. Whether it’s a walk around the farm or some stretching, physical activity actually releases endorphins that reduce stress and lift your mood.
  3. Set Realistic Goals/Lower Expectations: While it’s not always easy, try to break tasks into manageable steps and set achievable goals. Remember to be gentle with yourself if things don’t go quite as planned. Progress is progress, no matter how small.
  4. Reach Out to a Professional: If stress becomes overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek support from a mental health professional. Therapy can provide tailored coping strategies to suit your needs, and the Farm Family Support Line offers expert advice, free of charge to the farming community: 1-833-754-3692.
  5. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Even on days where it feels impossible, remember to prioritize taking care of yourself by eating nutritious food, staying hydrated, and getting enough rest. Although it seems like age-old wisdom, the fact of the matter is that a well-nourished body is better equipped to handle stress.

When life gets busy, it’s easy to put our mental well-being on the back burner. But what we tend to forget is that similar to physical exercise, putting aside the time to nurture our mental health is an investment. It will yield benefits that last for months and even years down the line.

While we may feel that we don’t have the time, the reality is that sometimes we have to make the time, because by adopting adaptive coping mechanisms into our daily routines, we not only become better equipped to handle everyday obstacles but also lay the groundwork for sustained success in the future – both professionally and personally.