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HomeBeefStress: The signs and 5 ways to well-being
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Stress: The signs and 5 ways to well-being

Stress: The signs and 5 ways to well-being

Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand that makes you feel threatened or upsets your balance somehow.

That is how Enda Geoghegan, Teagasc Ballina, defined it during a Teagasc Mayo webinar on health and safety, parasite control and animal nutrition.

He told farmer attendees that stress, when working properly, can help you stay focused, energetic, and alert. However, he did acknowledge that it can stop being helpful beyond a certain point.

That is when it causes damage to your mood, productivity, health, relationships, and quality of life.

He told farmers that “anyone can suffer from stress” and “every person has a different reaction to stress”.

He then went on to list the main stressors amongst farmers as follows:

  • Poor farm work conditions such as an excessive workload, bad health and poor safety standards;
  • Farm finances;
  • Farm management practices can “strongly” influence stress levels;
  • Paperwork/administrative duties.

The Teagasc advisor explained that having positive working and personal relationships are “helpful” in preventing stress. He explained that having adequate facilities and safe working practices are beneficial when it comes to reducing stress.

Signs of stress 

Geoghegan then went on to shed light on physical, mental and behavioural signs of stress.

Physical signs:

  • High blood pressure;
  • Muscle tension;
  • Disturbed sleep pattern;
  • Reduced energy;
  • Weight chain.

Mental signs:

  • A negative attitude;
  • Reduced energy;
  • Difficulty in making decisions;
  • Feeling uncertain or overwhelmed;
  • Forgetfulness and confusion.

Behavioural signs:

  • Loss of interest and enjoyment;
  • Withdrawal from family and friends;
  • Irritability and mood swings;
  • Increased drinking, smoking or drug use;
  • Loss of sense of humour.

Five ways to well-being:

He then highlighted that farmers could benefit from the ‘Five Ways to Well-being; actions, which have been proven, to boost mental health.

He explained that one could “easily” incorporate these actions into their daily lives, and this can make a “positive” difference.

He told attendees: “We have been talking about animals all night, but it is nice to mind ourselves and each other”.

  • Connect;
  • Be active;
  • Take notice;
  • Keep learning;
  • Give.


  • Talk to someone instead of sending an SMS;
  • Put five minutes aside to find out how someone is really feeling;
  • Stop the next time you meet a neighbour on the road.

Be active:

  • Leave the quad/jeep at home and walk to the yard/look at stock;
  • Take a walk in the evening;
  • Join an exercise group in your locality.

Take notice:

  • Be sensitive and aware of people around you;
  • Enjoy and savour moments: Spring-time: New life – calves and lambs.

Keep learning to enhance your self-esteem and encourage social interaction: 

  • Consider setting yourself a new challenge;
  • Discover a new interest or hobby


  • Do a good deed for someone;
  • Give an hour of your time to a voluntary organisation.

Other articles on That’s Farming:

How can you overcome worry burnout: Tips for farmers

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