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6 ways to reduce stress on the farm

For the Health of It: Reducing stress can help you stay productive on the farm and ranch.

June 21, 2024

3 Min Read
Farmers in a meeting
FARM SHOWS AND MEETINGS: Networking with other farmers and ranchers at farm shows and meetings is one way to reduce stress and improve productivity in your operation. Curt Arens

Editor’s note: For a Spanish version of this story, click “Download now” at the top or bottom of this page.

by Ellen Duysen

The causes of mental and physical stress in agriculture can seem endless. Long hours, physically strenuous tasks, lack of adequate rest, financial pressures, unpredictable weather and social isolation are just a few of the stressors that farmers and ranchers may face daily.

High productivity is a top priority in many operations, and the signs of stress may be accepted as “just part of the job.” Symptoms of stress include consistent fatigue and low energy, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, digestive problems, anxiety, irritability, feeling overwhelmed, memory problems, avoiding social interactions, and substance abuse.

If not managed, stress can lead to more severe health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and depression. The good news is that there are effective ways to manage stress that may even increase your daily productivity.

Below are six stress-reduction ideas you can accomplish during your busy days and nights. Choose one or two and see how they work for you.

1. Get good sleep. Not just sleep, good sleep. Even if you cannot get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep, you can improve your sleep by following some effective sleep tips. “30 Tips & Tricks for Better Sleep,” a list developed by retired Nebraska Extension educator Susan Harris, provides a guide to getting more restful sleep and reducing stress. Visit Why not try a few tonight?

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2. Maintain social interactions. Farming and ranching can be a lonely job. With heavy workloads and the feeling of having so little time to complete the work, you may be trading time spent with family and friends for a few more work hours. Try blocking out 20 minutes during your day to visit. Take a moment to stop into the coffee shop, sale barn or post office if you see a vehicle parked there that you recognize. Call an old friend. Even a quick, friendly conversation can help reduce the stress we are feeling.

3. Network with other producers. Attending commodity meetings and farm shows will allow you to discuss your farming concerns, get ideas for creative solutions and discover innovations to make your operation more profitable and less stressful.

4. Choose healthy food. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins can help reduce the effects of stress on our bodies and improve productivity. For some great ideas for healthy food “on the go,” check out Nebraska Extension’s Food in the Field program at

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5. Become a lifelong learner. Take advantage of opportunities available through your local Extension, university and industry to learn about new technologies, techniques and management that can save you time and money — thereby reducing stress. Enroll in a class today.

6. Use deep breathing and relaxation techniques. Practice deep breathing exercises as you drive to help calm your nervous system. Try a relaxing exercise as you go about your day. Print out this “On the Farm Yoga” poster at and hang it in your shop. It will not only give you some ideas for stretching, but it will also be a great conversation starter.

Try these easy steps to manage stress through healthy lifestyle choices, relaxation techniques, seeking support from friends and family, or if needed, professional help. Stay safe and healthy!

Duysen is a research assistant professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health and is coordinator of the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health.   

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