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5 ways to detect and combat burnout

The symptoms are real and they can happen to farmers, too.

Agriculture isn’t for the weak. We know that working in this industry requires intense commitment, hard work, and grit. But even the best of us can get burned out during seasons of challenging hours and uncompromising markets.

If you’ve noticed these symptoms in either yourself or your employees, you too may be experiencing burnout. And if a demanding schedule won’t permit a break any time soon, here are some alternative ways to combat burnout.

Burnout Symptom #1: Fatigue & Exhaustion

This is likely the most obvious burnout symptom. Falling asleep at work or struggling throughout the day physically should send the message that you need a break.

How to Combat:

Try to get more sleep if possible. You’re putting in more hours during planting season, and sometimes good sleep is harder to come by. If you are a manager, consider creating mandatory cutoff times in the evening so that your employees can get a decent night’s sleep and come to work refreshed in the morning, or shift roles around so that employees are able to get more sleep in intervals.

Burnout Symptom #2: Loss of Interest

If the job you love and normally feel at least somewhat energetic about is bringing you down and you feel yourself less and less excited or interested in what you’re doing (you may even dread it to the point of not wanting to get out of bed in the morning), you’re definitely burned out.

How to Combat:

If you’re at all able to shift or rotate duties, do so. Changing up your routine and working on something new and different, even if just slightly, helps more than you’d think.

Burnout Symptom #3: Poor Performance

You may find your own or your employees’ performance lacking from consistently strenuous or tedious work.

How to Combat:

Again, changing duties can help tremendously as well as self-care or taking short breaks to refresh the mind and body. The job still needs to get done, but it’s also important that it’s done well, so take a little extra time to recharge when needed.

Burnout Symptom #4: Aches & Pains

When you work harder, all of you works harder. Some physical symptoms regarding burnout that have been reported include insomnia, heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, chest pain, joint pain, and headaches.

How to Combat:

If you don’t feel burnout in any other way than physical pain, it’s easy to take some over-the-counter painkillers. However, if the problem(s) persist or don’t lessen, the best medicine is rest if possible.

Burnout Symptom #5: Depression & Anxiety

This burnout symptom should be taken the most seriously at this pivotal time in the agricultural industry when markets are dangerously low and it can feel like you’re working for nothing. Depression can also strike during busy seasons; long hours spent in the field or in the barns definitely take their toll on the human mind.

How to Combat:

If serious, make sure you or your employee(s) get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Call 1-800-FARM-AID from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays to share any mental health struggles and ask for solutions. If less serious but still noticeable, be sure to make time for self-care. Permit yourself short breaks or take walks when possible, if time off is not the best immediate option for your business. Treat yourself or your employees to treats when the hours get long, such as a special meal on-the-go.

 The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 

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