It has been nearly 80 years since our nation saw the last painful spout of the Great Depression, and almost 40 years have passed since the 1980’s Farm Crisis. History books like that of Donald Worster’s Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s say any elderly person alive during the Great Depression, or the Dust Bowl era, made it a point to warn youngsters that this event may repeat itself down the road. Unfortunately, as the 1980’s Farm Crisis proved, these people were right.
As farmers continue to ride the roller coaster of what is today’s farm economy, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) looked to do their part as advocates by hosting a webinar titled “Emotional Stress on the Farm: Implementing Practical Strategies to Cope”, which encompasses how stress impacts functionality, and the ways in which one should or should not cope.
Monica McConkey with Eyes on the Horizon Consulting led the “Emotional Stress on the Farm” webinar for the IFBF on Thursday afternoon. Throughout the presentation, McConkey highlighted two topics: farm unique stressors and coping strategies.
When considering farm unique stress, Monica made sure to cover competition, as she considers it to be one of largest contenders for stress. Not only do farmers have to deal with competition from large companies–farmers work to keep pace with their neighbors.
“We have competition with our neighbors. It’s not like it used to be back in the day when everybody was kind of in the same boat. You supported each other. Now we’re really, in a lot of cases, waiting for neighbors to fail [or pass] so we can have first dibs on that land. It’s a really difficult climate right now with land competition. The bottom line is there are a lot of different stressors coming from a lot of different directions.”
As for coping strategies, the speaker shared quite a few options.
“First of all, you’re gonna think some of these are dumb. You’re gonna think some of these will never work. Some of these you’re gonna give a try and they won’t work. They might work today; they might not work tomorrow. It’s a process having to work on yourself.”
McConkey says envisioning a place of happiness or a “feel good” destination adds huge relief to the mind. She states that challenging negative thoughts by replacing them with positive thoughts changes your entire perspective.
Additionally, Monica suggests leaning on meditation or prayer. The serenity prayer, recommended by McConkey, allows one to consider their role in the control over different levels of the farm. Whether it be political, local, family, or farm related, this prayer will aid in relief by understanding the category in which each issue should be placed.