2017 has been a challenging year for farmers and 2018 may be similar. Crop profit margins are tight once again, as more farms face cash flow and working capital constraints.

“It’s hard to face this kind of adversity in a positive way. Please know you don’t have to deal with the stress all by yourself,” said Margaret Van Ginkel, coordinator of Iowa Concern, a program from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

With a toll-free phone number, live chat capabilities and a website, Iowa Concern services are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week at no charge. Iowa Concern provides access to stress counselors and an attorney for legal education, as well as information and referral services for a wide variety of topics.

To reach Iowa Concern, call 1-800-447-1985; language interpretation services are available.

Or, visit the website, https://www.extension.iastate.edu/iowaconcern/, to live chat with a stress counselor one-on-one in a secure environment.

Or email an expert regarding legal, finance, stress, or crisis and disaster issues.

“All personal information given to Iowa Concern, whether on the hotline or through e-mail or live chat, is kept confidential,” Van Ginkel said.

“One way to get a grip on a stressful situation is to determine what you can control,” Van Ginkel continued. “An ISU Extension and Outreach farm financial management associate can help you understand a complete picture of your farm’s financial situation.”

Farm Financial Planning is ISU Extension and Outreach's farm financial analysis program. The confidential, free service consists of one-on-one financial counseling, a computerized analysis of the farm business, and referral to other extension programs or outside services that may be useful.

Van Ginkel, who also is a human sciences specialist, offers these additional stress relieving tips.

• Get plenty of sleep and exercise. Take time for yourself. Just 10 or 15 minutes a day to take a brisk walk or engage in other exercise you enjoy can help you sleep better.

• Resist drugs and alcohol. These substances may lessen your ability to deal with the situation or cause you to make poor decisions.

• Drink plenty of water each day to provide better wellness for your body.

• Don’t withdraw from your normal routine. Reach out to other people for help and support. You may find that others are dealing with the same problems.

Van Ginkel also suggestedisiting Human Sciences Extension and Outreach’s “Finding Answers Now” website for additional information and resources on dealing with stress.

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