Managing stress and mental health on the farm

An Iowa State University Extension dairy field specialist says stress is a large factor deciding farmers’ mental health. 

Dr. Larry Tranel said about 50 percent of happiness comes from genetics… 

“But the important part is that 40 percent of it you can control,” he said. “And there’s only about 10 percent of it left over. And what’s that due to; that’s due to circumstances.”

Tranel said farming stress and happiness can largely be tied to markets. He says it’s important to think of mental health like physical health that needs to be maintained. 

“Recognize that need to seek help at times especially when we’re highly stressed, make better more informed objective decisions,” Tranel said. “And we don’t [want to] make these decisions out of confusion, we don’t want to make them out of emotion because they tend not to be very good.” 

Tranel pointed to mental health first aide as a tool to manage stress and increase happiness. He says factors like social interaction, exercise and especially adequate sleep can be used to increase serotonin and boost mental health.  

Tranel was the guest speaker on the University of Missouri webinar series – “Rural Resiliency: Caring for You and Yours.” 

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