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During planting, stress management is more important than ever

farm couple walks down gravel lane with brown Labrador retriever

URBANA, Ill. – As the busy season of planting approaches, so do the pressures and expectations placed upon farmers. With professional mental health care sometimes hard to come by, farmers may be looking for other ways to handle stress.

University of Illinois Extension specialist Josie Rudolphi saw the need to connect with farmers about stress management after studying the common stressors seen among farmers.

“In doing research, we have done a number of interviews with farmers,” says Rudolphi whose research focuses on agricultural safety issues. “When we asked the major stressors, time pressures consistently come up.”

During a quantitative study, the time pressure seen among young farmers was associated with feelings of anxiety and depression. Farming is the most hazardous profession in the United States.

“Farmers are seven times more likely to be fatally injured at work than non-farmers,” says Rudolphi. “There is some research to suggest that there is an association between mental health symptoms and agricultural injury.”

The challenge has become knowing which comes first, the injury or the mental health symptoms. Either way, tools for stress management are useful in helping alleviate some of those concerns.

The Four A Method

The Four A Method is a stress and risk management technique that focuses on avoiding, altering, accepting, and adapting.

  • Avoid: Make an effort to avoid stressful situations if possible and prioritize the most important tasks.
  • Alter: Try altering the normal routine to account for the busier season and don’t try to do as much as any other time of the year.
  • Accept: Accept that every stressful situation can’t be avoided and understand that the situation is only temporary.
  • Adapt: Adapt the expectations of the job and the standards that are usually required by the stressful situation.

Learn More

Learn more about the Four A Method in a free webinar on April 1 at For more information, explore the Illinois Extension Agriculture Health and Safety website.

WRITER: Abby Schlueter, Illinois Extension Student Intern

About Extension

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.