Small Bites: Demoralized? Depressed? How much worry is too much worry?

Authored by Coach Polly Shyka

Small Bites are short, informational articles with practical ideas about stress reduction, improved communication, and farm and family well-being. They are written by coaches from UMaine Extension’s Farm Coaching team. Farm Coaches are available at no cost to work remotely with farmers and farm teams.

How much worry is too much worry?

It is May and if the birds don’t wake you before dawn, the circling thoughts of the undone projects probably do. Those onions that need to get in the ground, the broken axle, the wholesale account that fell through. The reality of what needs to be done can lead to uncomfortable feelings of overwhelm.

We all are familiar with it, some more than others. When that feeling lasts for more than a few hours or days, it may be helpful to parse out if what is happening is demoralization or depression. According to Dr. Kaethe Weingarten, there is a difference between being demoralized and depressed. “Demoralization is a normal reaction to overwhelming circumstances when the way to solve the problem is unclear or difficult to do. What distinguishes demoralization from depression is that if the situation changes, and you are demoralized, you are going to feel better.”

A lot of farmers can feel demoralized in spring time, through droughty times and certainly around financial issues. People have felt demoralized through the pandemic. You can watch Weingarten discuss this issue and the difference between “normal worry” and “excessive worry” in this video. She gives concrete ideas for how to work with these distressing feelings.

It’s okay to not be okay. The folks at Farm State of Mind, the Heal Food Alliance, the Northeast Farmers of Color Network, and FarmAid have different ways to connect and reach out for others to talk to. Connection can help you stay mentally and physically healthy. And reach out to trusted family and friends who can provide additional support.

The farm coaching team is available to talk with you about stress you are experiencing.