Grown Here at Home: Virginia Cooperative Extension helping farmers manage stress

Published: Aug. 24, 2020 at 9:19 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Anyone can look at a farmer’s day-to-day work and see that it’s physically demanding, but one thing people may not realize is the worry that can settle in because of unfavorable weather conditions, changing markets and the highs and lows of everyday farming life.

“We all handle stress differently. So with farming you used to have three or four good years, then you’d have a bad year, then you’d have three or four good years. And it’s just gotten to be that now you have three or four good months, and now you have a bad year. So the good times are a far and few in between. That stress just builds up. We can all handle some stress, but when it’s day in and day out year after year, the stress just gets to be too much for people to handle on their own,” explained Jeremy Daubert, a Virginia Cooperative Extension agent in Rockingham County.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension is offering two types of training sessions. One is for those who work with farmers to help them identify if a farmer is overly stressed.

“One of the first things you look for is a change in what a person does. If a person is happy to be out hunting and fishing and all of a sudden, they want to be in the house ll the time,” Jeremy said.

Other signs include excessive weight gain or weight loss. The other training is for farmers.

“Teaching them how they deal with stress and to recognize the signs of stress in themselves. And then we’ll give them a few things that they can do either on their own or with a friend, little or no cost,” Jeremy said.

Some things that help are prayer, exercise and maintaining a healthy diet.

Jeremy says he’s not a counselor, but he and other extension agents are there to help farmers talk about something that’s not always easy to do.

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