ST. CLOUD, Minn. — In part 1, we identified stressors for many in the agricultural community, as well as what effect stress has on both our mental health and physical health. Let’s move along in our discussion and shift our attention to how we can cope with stress. In this article, we will continue our conversation around stress and what you can do about it.
The adage, “you are what you eat,” has been a mantra in my family for a long time. As is frequently the case, my mom was right! Farming is hard work, filled with long days, extreme environmental heat or cold, and to put it simply, we frequently lift heavy things. We all learned in grade school that to perform daily tasks, we need quality food to fuel our bodies. That’s not soda or a bag of chips, though they have their place. This means a healthy mix of protein, fruit, vegetables, and carbohydrates. These quality meals allow us to stay fueled for the demanding work of the day ahead.
Next up is water. I have quite a few memories of being dehydrated (it’s a behavior I am always working on). I definitively remember feeling hot, exhausted, and just awful! Now when we look back, this was a preventable situation. Hydrating our bodies, especially when we are stressed by extreme temperatures or during challenging tasks, allows our brain, organs, and muscles to keep performing. A common goal is eight glasses a day, but everyone is different. Here’s an easy way to tell whether you’re hydrated: check the color of your urine. If it’s dark, you’re probably not drinking enough water (NIOSH, 2017).
The last thing I would like to share is to keep moving! Exercise is a natural and healthy stress reliever (Edenfield & Blumenthal, 2011). Exercise stimulates and even increases the size of the parts of the brain that keep our stress response in check, as well as those needed for good decision-making and problem-solving. Maybe it’s a walk with your significant other (or pet) in the afternoon. Perhaps it’s 30min on the bike in the morning. Work with your doctor to find out the best choice for you!
The information for this article was compiled from Ohio State University Extension, “Farm Stress & Decision-Making During Challenging Times” linked here (https://z.umn.edu/OSUFarmStress). Residents of Stearns, Benton, and Morrison counties can direct questions to either my email (email@example.com) or call my desk phone at (320) 255-6169 x 3.
— Dana Adams, University of Minnesota Extension
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