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Less stress on the farm for the holidays

Published Date:

The holiday season is here! Our team at the Farm Family Resource Initiative at SIU Medicine wants all farming families to celebrate safely and joyfully.

Read more to learn about why holidays can be so stressful for farmers and what you can do to keep your spirits up. 

Why are the holidays so stressful for farmers?

Many people report increased stress during the holidays. For people who work in farming, ranching and agriculture, the holidays are especially stressful due to common demands that pop up this time of year.

Finalizing sales, organizing taxes, calculating profits and winterizing, repairing and storing equipment all require a lot of time and attention—right when the family wants your time and attention, too. 

Farmers also deal with other holiday stressors, too. For example:  

  • People often have less free time and more commitments during the holidays.
  • Financial strains, as well as the heavily marketed consumer culture, are felt more acutely during the holidays.
  • Traveling can be hectic, especially because of COVID-19.
  • Some people turn to unhealthier coping behaviors like eating or drinking, which are already the focus of many holiday events and traditions.
  • Some people put pressure on themselves to have a "perfect" holiday for their family. 
  • The holidays often bring up a lot of grief and sadness for people who have lost loved ones, including pets.

10 ideas for managing holiday stress

  1. Learn the art of "No." Free yourself from the need to say yes to every invitation. Avoid over-committing yourself. Only go to the events you really look forward to and politely decline all others. "Thanks for the invitation! I won't be able to make it this time, but I hope you have a great time celebrating."
  2. Fill up on healthy foods first. Vegetables, fruits and healthy protein and fats are filling and can help you avoid overeating at parties or mindlessly snacking at home. This way, you can enjoy special holiday treats with less risk of overindulging—and less guilt after the fact.  
  3. Have realistic expectations. Understand that it's normal to feel stressed out from time to time, especially during busy harvest and winter preparation season. Don't be too hard on yourself, nor expect yourself to be perfect in all the various roles you play in your life. Look at the big picture. You can be blessed AND stressed.
  4. Stop to breathe. Long, slow deep breaths tell our nervous systems to calm down and can help reduce stress. Find somewhere comfortable to sit, put on your favorite music, close your eyes, and breathe deeply and slowly for a few minutes. 
  5. Ask for help. Could your spouse help out with cooking dinner this week? Could the kids lend a hand in decorating? Could you hire a housekeeper once or twice? Would hiring a mechanic this year be easier than trying to fix that tractor yourself? Lean on others to help reduce your burden. 
  6. Stay active. Even just a 10- to 20-minute brisk walk around the farm can help minimize stress. Get the family involved for quality time together!
  7. Watch your social media intake. While the holidays are a good time to relax, spending too much time on social media may increase stress and lead to unhealthy comparisons with others. Scroll sparingly. 
  8. Go easy on the cocktails. While many people use alcohol as a way to unwind, drinking too much can increase anxiety and lead to behaviors that cause more stress. If you do drink, aim for moderation (up to 2 drinks per day for men, and 1 drink per day for women). 
  9. Be present. When you a're with your family, put your phone away and really be with them. Enjoy your traditions. Feel gratitude for the small special moments this season brings.
  10. Don't ignore important off-season farm tasks. Break big chores up into manageable steps to help you feel more organized.

Ready More gifts for a great warm holiday season? 

Want some other self-care gift ideas? The Farm Family Resource Initiative has a short video with three tips for getting through the holidays with less stress. 

The FFRI and SIU Medicine will be here for you through the holiday season and beyond. at SIU Medicine is here for you through the holiday season and beyond. Call 217-545-8000 to find out how we can serve you and your loved ones.

Karen Leavitt Stallman
Ag Resource Specialist

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