Managing Stress During Harvest

The ups and downs of harvest (and running a property every other day of the year) can be extremely taxing. Managing stress is crucial to avoiding burning out mentally and physically or creating long term health issues.

The National Centre for Farmer Health breaks down the signs of stress into physical, emotional and behavioural. Consider the below when experiencing your own behaviours and moods and those of the people around you. Stress can manifest differently depending on an individual and it is important to respond and handle it with consideration.

Physical: headaches, chest pains, increased heart rate, clenched teeth, fatigue, procrastination, stomach problems, sore, irritated or strained eyes (that aren’t triggered by hayfever!).

Emotional: an increase in angry reactions, frustration, impatience, difficulty in controlling moods, thoughts of taking your own life, low self-esteem, depression, short tempered, neglecting health.

Behavioural: overeating, not eating enough, increased smoking or alcohol drinking, change in sleep habits, restlessness, lack of concentration, withdrawn from others, trouble adapting, forgetfulness, becoming argumentative.

Tips for managing as a team:

  • Create a list of services you can call on for information and assistance. Share this with your team (some options are below)
  • Communication is key. Schedule regular farm business and team meetings to ensure everyone is connected and has a clear idea of their tasks and expectations.
  • Add an agenda item to toolbox meetings where everyone says out of 10 how they are, no reason required, just a radar for you to see how people are tracking.
  • Break large tasks into smaller, manageable tasks which can be prioritised
  • Celebrate and reward success, small wins should be acknowledged!
  • Keep in touch with farming groups and industry networks - they are sources of information and social contact
  • Try and get a laugh – tell a joke of the day or share a funny story
  • Schedule breaks to recharge and gain perspective. This can improve decision-making power.

Tips for managing yourself:

  • Focus on what you can control, not on what you can’t.
  • Eat healthy, sustainable meals and stay hydrated
  • Focus on trying to get adequate sleep
  • Listen to music or podcasts that are positive and motivating
  • When sitting alone for extended periods, phone a friend or family member (use handsfree and Bluetooth)
  • Keep connected to the team
  • Be accountable for your actions
  • Ask for help or support.


Places to get help:


Sources & Further Reading:

Managing Stress on the Farm – The National Centre for Farmer Health

Stress - Better Health Channel

Stress management - Be You

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