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HomeFarming NewsWhat is stress and why does it matter?
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What is stress and why does it matter?

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) has defined stress as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them.”

Stress is a common factor in all of our lives. How much stress you encounter varies between individuals.

Pressure vs Stress

The HSENI said that there is a distinct difference between pressure and stress. They say pressure can create a ‘buzz’ and be motivating, while stress occurs when the pressure becomes excessive.

“Work-related stress is a major cause of occupational ill health in farming and it can cause severe physical and psychological conditions for farmworkers. It can also lead to poor productivity, high staff turnover and increases in accidents in an industry with the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK.”

“HSE statistics show that work-related stress is a significant issue, not just in farming, with more than 11.5 million working days lost as a result of stress, anxiety or depression at an estimated cost of £5.2 billion to industry, individuals and the government.”

The government agency stated that legislation requires you to assess the level of risk and hazard in the work-place. This includes the risk of stress.

How to deal with stress

The HSENI has issued a list of means to reduce or manage the amount of stress in your life. These include:

  • Talking about it: “Talk to friends, family and workmates about the source of what is causing you stress. You can also join farming forums and Facebook groups to chat to other farmers. They may have useful advice and be able to provide support.”
  • Take a break: “It’s difficult to relax while on a farm as there is always plenty to do. Try to schedule regular breaks where you actually leave the farm for a period of time (anything from a few hours to a weekend away). A short time away can help you come back with a fresh perspective.”
  • Look after yourself: “Stress can take a physical toll, it’s important that you eat a heathy diet, take part in physical exercise and ensure you have sufficient time to sleep. Making time to take care of yourself will help you stay strong in the face of stress.”
  • Relaxation: “There are a variety of ways in which you can relax – you might like to read a book, go for a walk or watch your favourite TV show. Try to find time to relax each day, even if it’s just for 15 minutes.”
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