Q: Unlike other farmers, who seem to find fall harvests the most stressful time on the farm, my husband is stressed out each and every spring. It starts shortly after Christmas and carries on until he has the last seed in the ground on that final acre. He is more stressed this year than usual and that is heartbreaking for me. I feel totally helpless. What can I do to help him?
A: Every year seems to have its own stress factors. This year, many communities struggled through a miserable winter only to find that the spring runoff offered limited moisture.
Prices for grain appear to have dropped and rail services faced difficulties. The price for fuel is breaking records and none of the other seeding costs appear to be easing.
To top it off, interest rates on loans and lines of credits are expected to rise.
Stress is not a psychological problem. If it is, then you are dealing with anxiety and that puts you into a whole different ball game. Anxiety generally means a trip to the psychiatrist with a few sessions of followup by mental health counsellors.
Stress is different. It is the product of the demands a person feels each day.
You feel stressed when too many demands are put upon you, whether they are the overwhelming demands of trauma or the cumulative pressures of trying to survive one day to the next.
Most likely the latter falls into your husband’s territory. He is looking at all of the pressures and feeling discouraged.
Studies tell us that men feeling stressed are more open to compassion and personal bonding than they might otherwise be. You can best help your husband, and yourself, by joining with him to work through the stress.
It is best if you have a pencil and a piece of paper on which the two of you can write down major and minor demands.
Then identify strategies for dealing with your stressors. You cannot make the weather bring more rain, but you can figure out how you might work through a drier year.
It will take time. When your husband gets agitated sitting when he thinks he should be working, remind him how much time he wastes when his stress levels lead to accidents and interfere with his daily chores.
Despite his objections, that little hug you and he are going to share will defuse his stress like nothing else could. What could be a better antidote to stress than two people caring about each other?
Jacklin Andrews is a family counsellor from Saskatchewan. Contact: [email protected]