Responding to Stress

Feeling stressed? You’re not alone. The farming community is not immune to stress; ongoing economic conditions in agriculture are taking a toll on farm families and their rural communities.

“Understanding stress and how chronic stress impacts all aspects of life and then learning how to manage stress are essential for one’s health and our rural communities” said Trisha Wagner, Farm Management Program Outreach Director, University of Wisconsin-Madison-Extension.

“Stress can negatively affect health, sleep, relationships and communication with others,” said John Shutske, Extension Ag safety specialist at UW-Madison. “Probably the most crucial impact is the way in which chronic stress, developed through the combination of duration and intensity, impacts decision making.”

“Sometimes people can’t recognize signs of stress in themselves; others might sense something is wrong but may not know how to bring it up,” said Joy Kirkpatrick, Extension farm succession specialist at UW-Madison. “Start the conversation by talking with family and friends about stress and the changes that might need to happen.”

Extension helps farmers, families, businesses, and communities remain resilient by learning how to manage stress and use planning tools to make sound decisions and create a road-map for the future. Find Extension resources online at

If any person expresses the signs and symptoms of extreme stress and talks about harming themselves or ending their life, it is important to provide help and support. The most important resource for support anywhere in the U.S. is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, accessible for English-speaking people at 1-800-273-8255 or in Spanish at 1-888-628-9454. See for more information.