Stress and farming – coping tips

stress and farming, stress and your health

Living and working in rural Australia can be very rewarding. However, farming can also be stressful. There are the everyday issues of family life, balancing budgets, planning for the future and keeping up with developments in your area of farming. The added pressures of managing a farm during difficult times like extreme climatic events, market fluctuations or natural disaster can sometimes seem overwhelming. Social isolation and working long, irregular hours can make this harder to cope with.

Keeping yourself in a fit state to enjoy the good times is very important. Keeping yourself fit to weather the difficult times is even more important. A small amount of stress can help keep us motivated. However, persistent stress can result in distress.

Different people respond differently to potentially stressful situations. Be aware of some of the common effects of stress to watch out for in yourself and others:

  • Poor sleep or sleeping more than usual
  • Poor concentration, irritability, and anger
  • Increased drinking or smoking
  • Poor decision making, avoiding making decisions or forgetfulness
  • Changed appetite, not feeling well or nervousness
  • Feel like you are at the end of your tether

If you see or feel these signs, take notice and take action. Persistent stress can have a significant effect on your physical health and mental wellbeing. Find out how stress affects your body.

Some simple tips to help get you through tough times:

  • Eat healthy, nutritious food
  • Get adequate sleep and have a regular sleep routine
  • Keep physically active
  • Make time to get away from the farm
  • Find things to laugh about
  • Allow yourself time to do something you enjoy
  • Keep socially connected

These are things that we often forget when we are feeling stressed, but they are the very things that can help us get through a stressful period.


You need to talk about it

While we know people in rural farming communities are very willing to volunteer help to others, many farmers, who are used to working things out for themselves, don’t want to share their problems. However, it’s really important that you talk to family, trusted friends or a health professional about issues that are upsetting, stressful or difficult. You may be helping someone else as well if you open up and say how you feel. Don’t give up if you find it tricky to find support that suits you—there is never a one-size-fits-all solution. Keep trying until you find what works for you.

Find out more about this topic on Better Health Channel

References used for this topic page

More information:

National Centre for Farmer Health Support Page
Managing Stress on the Farm—booklet download

Better Health Channel

Service finder

Research & reviews:

Rural and Remote Health
Coping and resilience in farming families affected by drought

The Journal of Remote Health
Alcohol Consumption, Obesity and Psychological Distress in Farming Communities – An Australian Study

Medical Journal of Australia

Drought-related stress among farmers: findings from the Australian Rural Mental Health Study

Fast facts:

Stress and farming

  • Farming, particularly during difficult times like drought, bushfire and flood can be stressful.
  • Watch out for warning signs like irritability, sleeplessness, appetite loss and feeling like you can’t copy anymore.
  • Talk about your feelings, even if you’re used to sorting out your own problems—some things are really better being shared.

Last updated: 16th January, 2019