Small Bites – Talking about Stress

Authored by Coach Polly Shkya

Small Bites are short, informational articles with practical ideas about stress reduction, improved communication, and farmer 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. 

Talking about stress is generally not a favorite subject. Stress can be uncomfortable, annoying, potentially embarrassing, and rarely energizing or creative. It is important to be able to ask your team and partners (and yourself!) about stress and stress patterns. How are people doing? Are there work-related stresses that people are holding? What is happening off the farm or in the larger community that contributes to the stressload of individuals?

How does each person on your team show their stress? Cope with stress? One person might get flustered and forgetful, another might work through lunch 3 days in a row, another might get testy and irritable. You can note how stress shows up in different people who are important to you and your business. You can also just ask: “When you are stressed, what does that look like?” You can ask: “is there anything you need right now?” That kind of caring, observation and memory is helpful to you as a leader because it can help you be supportive and help navigate or assist people out of tight spots. 

A little bit of stress can be a good thing and can lead to creativity and inspiration; mild stress can be motivating and clarifying, but chronic and heavy stress can be unhealthy and weigh individuals down. When we expand our awareness of stress patterns in the people we care about, our conversations broaden, we become better leaders and collaborators, and our businesses can be stronger. 

How are you coping with the stresses on the farm and in your world?

Looking for a place to talk about your own stresses? Send an email to schedule a time to chat with a farm coach.