Identifying burnout and stress
4 min read
Burnout is a state of exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. This page helps you understand the different signs and symptoms of stress and burnout in yourself and your team. It covers good stress that motivates, excessive stress that overwhelms, and burnout that exhausts. There's guidance on spotting these signs early, so you can take steps to feel better. It also offers advice on what to do if you or someone you know is headed towards burnout or depression, including emergency contacts and support for farmers. Practical tips such as taking time out, talking about feelings, and making good food choices are highlighted.
Battling unhealthy stress for long periods of time can lead to a full crash – known as burnout. It is essential to understand the different signs and symptoms of stress and burnout, so that you can take care of yourself and your team’s mental and physical well-being. This page will help you learn how to spot the signs early, and identify the different kinds of stress you and your team may be feeling, so you can identify if you are at the unhealthy end of the scale and take steps to get back to feeling your best.
Look out for these ‘red flags’ in both you and your teammates:
If you notice a number of these happening at once, it's likely that you’re not doing the things needed to stay well. Spend some time figuring out which ones you could put into practice, so you can start back on the road to wellness.
When in doubt, take time out, or give your affected team member some time off. Talk about what’s going on, rather than ignoring it. Also, make or encourage good food choices.
"I'm excited about being on farm today. I love what I do."
You know that feeling when you have a goal, and the challenge of reaching it excites you? That’s good stress. It’s when we feel motivated and slightly pushed, but not overwhelmed.
For example, you’re facing a wet, challenging spring, and you need to make some critical decisions. Working through the options and scenarios is encouraging, and makes you feel like the end is in sight. This motivates you to carry on and find the solution.
"I don't really want to deal with the farm. I'm dreading what it will throw my way today."
When you’re experiencing negative thoughts and feelings, rather than excitement and motivation, you’re probably under excessive stress.
For example, you’re lying in bed at night thinking/worrying about all sorts of things: the round length is too short, the cows are losing weight, we have a herd test next week, the calves need drenching. Everything piles on top of each other and you start to get a feeling of helplessness, like it’s getting out of control. Despite this, you carry on each day.
"I don't feel like I can cope with the farm today, but I know I have to."
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged excessive stress.
For example, you’ve been under financial stress for such a long time that you just don’t have any energy left to deal with the issues. Even so, you plod along and do the best you can.
"I can't think straight. I don't know where to begin with running this farm. I just want to stay in bed."
This is that state where our normal functioning – eating, sleeping, daily tasks – is seriously impaired. It’s a mental or bodily condition marked by the disorganisation of personality, mind, and emotions.
Any of us can end up in this situation if we get too overwhelmed. It’s important to get help if you find yourself in this place. There’s a huge amount of support available for farmers.
If you want to talk to someone right away, please call these numbers:
"I'm useless and a waste of time. I don’t want to be here anymore."
If you’re feeling like this, please seek professional help right away. Talking to someone is so important, and there are caring people who want to help you. Many people have felt this way and found their way out.
If you're worried someone may already be depressed, encourage them to speak to their health practitioner, and encourage them to talk to someone about it.
These numbers are good:
If you are worried someone is suicidal, get professional help. Do everything you can to get the help he or she needs, and call a crisis line for advice. Encourage the person to see a mental health professional, help locate a treatment facility, or take them to a doctor’s appointment.
These are the numbers to call: