Staying positive in tough times
March 7, 2019


Last year was a very difficult year for my family, and 2019 has not started any better. Everywhere I turn, I am forced to think about the challenges my family is facing. I know I am not alone in the way I feel. I have spent the last several months trying to keep my head high and not talk about what is going on. I am a very private person when it comes to my family, and I do not plaster my every thought on social media. However, keeping all of that inside of me has not been good for my health. I know how to recognize and control my stress, but no matter what, I could not escape it.

My family is one of the many dairy families across the United States experiencing farm stress. Living in the unknown of the farm takes away all of my positive energy and can be emotionally exhausting and draining every day. I have had to make a conscious effort to focus on the positives in my life and to let the negatives go. I was able to find an extremely wonderful handout from North Dakota State University Extension called 12 Tools for Your Wellness Toolbox in Times of Farm Stress. I had the amazing opportunity to hear Sean, the author, speak at a conference about rural stress. This resource not only applies to farm stress but to ALL stress that EVERYONE faces. The list focuses on the following physical, mental, emotional, personal, work and financial wellness strategies, which will help enhance your mood, renew your energy and help you stay focused:

Exercise 20 minutes or more daily (walk, swim, ride a bike, etc.)

Get an annual medical checkup with a local health-care provider.

Spend 10 minutes planning your day and priorities.

Take regular 5- to 10-minute breaks in your day to relax and recharge.

Write down 3 things that you are grateful for daily.

Share concerns with a counselor or other professional.

Take 15 minutes each day for uninterrupted conversation with a spouse or family member.

Get involved or stay connected with a friend or group of friends.

Discuss needs of the farm operation but do not let them occupy all other aspects of life.

Seek constructive feedback on your farm operation and ways to grow or improve.

Create a family budget and seek to live within your means.

Select three healthy habits you will try to practice daily. Start today!

Which three healthy habits could you begin doing today? I strongly encourage you to figure out who is in your support network. Who do you feel comfortable sharing your personal struggle(s) with? I started focusing on the goodness in this world and the amazing people that surround me. Open up and focus on the positive outcomes in your bumpy ride.


Brotherson, S. (2017, September) 12 Tools for your wellness toolbox in times of farm stress. Retrieved from

Stefura, B. (2014, October 13). Don't let stress get the best of you! Retrieved from

Amanda Bohlen is the new family and consumer science educator for The Ohio State University Extension in Washington County. She received her bachelor's in family and consumer science education from Ohio University and her master's in curriculum and instruction from Ohio Valley University. For the last seven years she has been in the classroom teaching high school students' financial education, child development, nutrition and culinary skills.


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