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5 ways to create a buffer against stress and chaos

Kimmi Devaney for Progressive Dairy Published on 23 September 2021

Fluctuating milk prices. Wildfires and evacuations. Drought. High feed prices. Domestic and international current events headlining mainstream media. Pandemic-related mandates and restrictions. Polarizing viewpoints creating rifts in society. And it is all at our fingertips on our phones, talked about in our favorite coffee shops and in our email inboxes, in addition to airing on news stations across America.

How do we get away from it? Stress is all around us, and based on conversations with farmer friends across the nation, it is taking a toll. Many stressors are not within our direct control, and therefore, it is important to manage how we react and respond. One way to better weather the stress is to create a buffer between our sense of peace (and our sanity) and the stressors around us. We can also act on the stressors that we can control.

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Hard work is ingrained in farm kids from a young age, and it is a hard habit to break. Like many farmers and farm kids, I learned the hard way that my passion for my work and my work ethic can at times be detrimental to my health when I push myself too hard for too long. Two words: adrenal fatigue (times two) – not recommended. It is necessary to learn and recognize when enough is enough, at least for that day, and to prioritize taking care of ourselves. “Self-care, who has time for that? I have work to do!” I can hear many farmers saying it already, and I’ve thought that myself many times. However, sometimes taking better care of ourselves is as easy as taking a short break away from electronics, a nap (my personal favorite), squeezing in a workout or calling up a friend to chat. We could all benefit from slowing down a bit.

Unfortunately, stress is not going away anytime soon (if only!). Here are five ways to create a buffer against the stress and chaos. Do you have anything to add?

1. Create more margin. Building in additional time between activities and meetings means less rushing and stressing about being late to the meeting, work, kids’ school activities, etc. I was skeptical that adding more time between activities and doing less would increase productivity and make me feel calmer, but I was pleasantly surprised. Try it for a week and see if you feel calmer and less stressed.

2. Find an escape. Which activities cause you to lose track of time and for everything else to fade away momentarily? Add more time for that! Running on country backroads is my escape, but yours may be reading a book, catching up on the latest dairy news in Progressive Dairy or sitting on the porch swing watching the cows in the field. There’s no wrong answer.

3. Make time to sleep. Sleep is my favorite. I am not a sleep doctor, but I do know that the eight-hour-per-night sleep recommendation does not work for everyone. Some need more and some may need a little less. Falling asleep when stressed is a challenge, and it is worth creating a daily nighttime routine to wind down for bed without electronics. Make a list of relaxing activities you can add to your nighttime routine that will help your mind wind down, and then try it out. As with any routine, you may need to readjust a few times before finding the routine that works best.

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4. Clean up your social media feeds. Declutter the negativity – people and posts/content – online and offline by connecting with uplifting people and setting limits on social media scrolling. How do you feel after scrolling through social media? If the answer is less than great, it may be time to limit social media time, declutter the negativity (or whatever is making you feel less than stellar about your time online) and connect with others who bring more joy to your life. Laughter can also help with stress.

5. Organize your space. A messy work or home space can turn physical clutter into overwhelming mental clutter. Take a few minutes to evaluate what brings you and your family joy (Marie Kondo style) and what is no longer serving you. Not only does it take less time (and stress) to find things when they are organized, but decluttering also creates additional margin in your home and workspace.  end mark

Kimmi Devaney
  • Kimmi Devaney

  • Senior Director of Communications
  • Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council
  • Email Kimmi Devaney

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