What is Stress?

Stress is your bodies' natural reaction to a demand or "stressor."  Stressors may range from pressures due to daily life events (exercise, giving a presentation) to stress trigged by a negative change (loss of a job, death of a loved one) or to the occurance of major traumatic events (a life threatening accident or involvment in an armed conflict). Stress is normal and affects everyone, though it can impact your health both positively and negatively.  

Much short-term stress can be positive. Positive stress can motivate you to accomplish a goal or succeed with a challenge.  Stress helps us react quickly in life threatening situations.  Stress responses are designed to aid in our survival.

Chronic Stress and Your Health

Long term stress, or chronic stress, can be harmful to your health when it continues past the time when the stressor occurs.  Chronic stress can result from routine stresses as well as traumatic events. 

Signs of chronic stress may include:

  • sleep problems

  • irritability

  • sadness

  • a lack of interest or involvement

  • decline in self-care or those within their care (children, animals, home, farm)

  • headaches

  • substance abuse

  • digestive upset

  • weight loss or weight gain

  • a lowered ability to fight infections

Over time, chronic stress can seriously impact your health, leading to problems such as depression and anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. 

Ways to Positively Manage Stress

Take care of yourself:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Plan time for relaxation (Try mindfulness and relaxation techniques)
  • Eat healthy meals
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol

Talk to others:

  • Health professional
  • Family and friends

Western Montana Mental Health Center
 is offering online/phone therapy from the comfort of your home: call 556-6500 to schedule 

If you are feeling hopeless seek professional help immediately or call the Montana Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 24-hours a day, seven days a week or text "MT" to 741 741.  

Visit the "Responding to people Under pressure under the big sky" page for help determining the level of assistance to provide for a person you know suffering from stress. 

responding to people under pressure under the big sky cover image


Find more detailed information on stress and stress management at nimh.nih.gov , cdc.gov, and mentalhealth.gov



Farm and Ranch Stress Resources

A rural lifestyle may bring with it additional stressors of isolation, financial worries, and factors that are out of the control of the farmer/rancher such as weather, market prices etc.  Combined, these stressors place farmers and ranchers at a greater risk for chronic stress.  Recognition of the need to specifically help this group has brought together organizations such as MSU Extension, the National Farmer's Union, The Farm Bureau, and other Extension organizations around the country to provide farm  stress specific resources.  More resources will be available in early 2020.  

Montana Specific program for farmer/rancher assistance and more information:

Working Together to Respond to Farmers & Ranchers Under Stress in Rural Montana Project Page 

Ask In Earnest - find resources and information on preventing farmer suicide from this Montana based assistance program

National programs for farmer/rancher assistance and more information:

Farm Crisis Assistance - find local and national resources for financial and disaster aid assistance

Farm Aid Farmers Resource Network - financial, marketing, crisis, and other farmer resources as well as a direct farmer hotline for assistance

Farm Town Strong- the American Farm Bureau Federation and the national Farmer's Union have teamed up to provide information and resources