A focus on: Stress

‘ThESE are stressful times’, ‘I feel stressed’, ‘You are stressing me’, ‘This is very stressful’ – these are very common phrases. We use them and hear them a lot. But what does stress actually mean, how can we spot the signs and most important of all – what can we do about it?

We know what it’s like to feel stressed, but it’s not so easy to pin down exactly what stress means. Are we talking about a situation or event that has put pressure on us, or do we mean our reaction to being placed under pressure?

Most of us will agree that being under pressure is a normal part of life. It can help us take action, feel more energised and get results. But if we become overwhelmed by stress fre- quently, it could become a problem.

How you might feel:

Irritable, aggressive, impatient or wound up

Anxious, nervous or afraid

Like your thoughts are racing and you can’t switch off

Unable to enjoy yourself
Uninterested in life
Like you’ve lost your sense of humour A sense of dread

Worried about your health Neglected or lonely

What are the signs of stress?

How you might behave:

Finding it hard to make decisions Constantly worrying
Avoiding situations that are troubling you Snapping at people
Biting your nails

Picking at your skin Unable to concentrate Eating too much or too little Smoking or drinking alcohol more

than usual
Restless, like you can’t sit still Being tearful or crying

How you might be physically affected: Shallow breathing or hyperventilating

Muscle tension Blurred eyesight or sore eyes

Broblems getting to sleep, staying asleep or having nightmares

Tired all the time

Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw


Chest pains

High blood pressure

Indigestion or heartburn

Constipation or diarrhoea

Feeling sick, dizzy or fainting

What causes stress?

Feelings of stress are normally triggered by things happening in our life which involve being under lots of pressure, facing big changes, worrying about something, not having much or any control over the outcome of a situation, having responsibilities that we’re finding overwhelming, not having enough work, activities or change in our life and times of uncertainty.

There might be one big thing causing you stress, but stress can also be caused by a build-up of small pressures. This might make it harder to identify what’s making you feel stressed, or to explain it to other people.

Did someone move the brush or used the last gloves in the milking parlour, or is the drive shaft broken and the cow has started calving at the same time?

What can be done about it?

Yes, a little stress can be good for us, but if you’re in the red zone a lot, it’s worth sorting out how to overcome it. Working out what triggers stress for you can help you anticipate problems and think of ways to solve them. Even if you can’t avoid these situations, being prepared can help.

If you flew off the handle, it’s worth asking yourself if the response was appropriate. Take some time to reflect on events and feelings that could be contributing to your stress. You might be surprised to find out just how much you’re coping with at once.

Maybe you can turn the volume down on what’s stressing you – too much time on social media and dealing with technology, the news etc. We might feel stressed and overwhelmed by having too many things to do and think about at the same time.

For some, time management is a big stress factor. Making a list of things you have to do and focus on the most urgent first should help with that.

For farmers the advice ‘don’t to do too much at once’ might seem laughable but if you take on too much, you might find it harder to do any individual task well. This can make many of us feel like we have even more pressure on us.

Take breaks and take things slowly. It might be difficult to do this when you’re stressed, but it can actually make you more productive.

And last but not least – ask someone if they can help. If you feel like everything is crashing down on you and aren’t coping, please remember to ‘Share the Load’.


How I cope with stress from the office

FUW Senior Policy Officer Dr Hazel Wright

Do you know when you’re stressed?

Not immediately – it can take a while to recognise that i’m stressed. Normally my husband recognises it before i do.

What are the signs of stress for you?

i start to mull over things that would never normally bother me. This can include replaying conversations from particularly arduous meetings or finding it difficult to let go of things that have annoyed me.

What stresses you?

Generally not the big things. i thrive on busy workloads and enjoy pressure working. However, i can get stressed when i feel that there are too many little jobs piling up and i can’t seem to get the time to do them.

How do you manage the stress?

if it is work related i make lists to reorganise my brain and stop it from randomly jumping from one task to another. This helps declutter my thinking and helps me focus on getting things done.

Do you proactively manage your stress?

Yes, but probably unintentionally. i love to craft and i’m a huge fan of cross stitch and embroidery. i sew for several hours almost every night and find the repetitiveness very relaxing; especially after a day where the meetings have been ‘aggressively constructive’!


My view of stress on the farm yard

FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman

Do you know when you’re stressed?

i guess not initially, until i realise i’m worrying more.

What are the signs of stress for you?

Starting to worry about the amount of work that needs to be done on the farm and the lack of time to get things done. Becoming more irritable and short tempered.

What stresses you?

At certain times of year there’s lots to do, shearing, routine vaccinations, silage, reseeding etc. Often the weather dictates what can be done and the jobs can pile up.

How do you manage the stress?

i try to prioritise the work to be done, accept that i can’t do everything and that some things such as the weather are out of my control.

Do you proactively manage

your stress?

i try to. i switch off the phone so there’s less
distraction. i always feel better once i’ve ticked
off some of the jobs on the list. i try to put things in perspective, for example, talking to neighbours in the mart, when you realise that the problems are not exclusive to you or switching off for a few hours watching rugby.


Farm Support spreading across Wales

Tir Dewi, the Farm Support Charity is planning to launch its service for farmers into Powys, Anglesey, Gwynedd and Conwy this summer. Their current team of volunteers have supported over 200 farmers and

their families in Dyfed in recent years. They have helped with a wide range of issues including the effects of isolation, the burden of administration, financial pressures and the sheer weight and complexity of farming work.

elen Skyrme, who is leading the launch into
Powys for Tir Dewi said: “we recently ran a survey
of farmers and every farmer who responded said
that there was a need for more support. it was clear
that there is no single issue, and therefore, no single solution. Tir Dewi volunteers work with farmers, whatever their problem to help them find their solution.”

Another interesting conclusion from the survey is that 2/3 of farmers are reluctant to ask for help as they are concerned about confidentiality, embarrassment, or shame.

“Farmers are naturally concerned about their reputation in a community where almost everyone knows each other. Tir Dewi provides a truly confidential service and will never judge a farmer on their circumstances. we are here to help,” said Gareth Davies, CeO of Tir Dewi.

Can you Help?

Tir Dewi is looking for volunteers to join their team in Powys and North Wales. Volunteers can offer as much or as little time as they like. Training and support will be provided. If you feel that you can help or want to know more, please contact: volunteering@tirdewi.co.uk


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