Late season leads to farmer stress

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Many farming families across the Eyre Peninsula are dealing with higher-than-average stress and exhaustion following an unusually late harvest. With many still reaping well into New Year period, the usual downtime and family leave has been scarce. This also applies to advisors and other industry personnel, who are providing advice and support to farmers over an unusually extended period of time.

AIR EP Executive Officer Naomi Scholz says the farmer-driven organisation has recognised the severity of exhaustion and stress in farmers across the region early this year.

“The lack of a break has meant farmers are exhausted, with many having to make the decision between spending time with family versus spraying,” she said.

“The work/life balance is certainly out of kilter, and this often leads to people responding badly to situations and making poor decisions.

“We want to remind our farming community that you’re not alone in this situation, and to check in with your neighbours and mates.”
Clinical psychologist and ifarmwell founder and director Associate Professor Kate Gunn has also recognised how the late finish has created new challenges for many famers.

“Many farming families get through the challenges of harvest by looking forward to a couple of weeks at the beach at the end of it. But those breaks, which are important, have been cut a bit short this year, and with the return to school, people aren’t feeling quite as refreshed, rested and connected as they normally would be at this time of year,” A/Prof Gunn said.

“Having grown up in a farming family at Mount Cooper near Port Kenny, like most farmers I really value hard work. However, we all need to remind ourselves that sometimes allowing yourself to rest is the most productive thing you can do. It also helps prevent you from making bad decisions and to keep you safe.”

A/Prof Gunn says work/life balance looks different for everyone.
“Some people say there is no such thing, only work/life choice. Instead, you make choices, and they have consequences. That is probably a good way for farmers to look at it, as farm, work and family life tend to be so intertwined,” A/Prof Gunn said.

“So, it’s probably not realistic to aim to ‘achieve’ work/life balance. It’s more helpful to be aware of the different roles we are balancing and to think about whether we are meeting our responsibilities in a way that we are satisfied with.

“If you get it wrong, your family, partner, health, mental health or finances are likely to tell you.”
A/Prof Gunn’s advice is to give yourself the same advice you’d give someone else, be brave and say no to new invitations or requests where you can and use time to do whatever you need to do, to feel refreshed and connected with those who matter most.

“Seeding will be upon us soon, and you will need all the energy you can muster for that,” she said.
For help with working out what is most important to you and how to best use your time visit and complete the five free modules.

For more information, contact EO Naomi Scholz on 0428 540 670.

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