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Mental Health in Good Times: Preventing Good Stress from Becoming Bad Stress

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Corn, soybean and wheat futures are at highs producers haven’t seen in years. While these prices are strong, they a source of stress for some producers with the uncertainty and volatility.

“Stress is still stress, and even during times that are good, if we get caught up in thinking about the what ifs—should I sell, should I not sell—and having too much of good stress can be contradictory to the feeling of that good stress,” said Eric Karbowski, community behavioral health educator with Michigan State University Extension.

He said it’s important to find balance.

“What are the things we should focus on, the things that we can control, and making sure there is a balance with that good stress so the good stress doesn’t become bad stress and negatively impact us,” said Karbowski.

Unlike bad stress, good stress can be rooted in adrenaline.

“Good stress could be seeing an increase in these prices and knowing that you have grain to sell and that’s going to offset some of those costs,” said Karbowski. “Those are good stresses that would elevate or increase our happiness levels. Finding that good balance, recognizing the good that’s around us and not creating these negative stresses during times of good.

Although it might be difficult, Karbowski said to try to be present in the current moment.

“Focus on the things that are good and not letting yourself get so overwhelmed and caught up in shifting yourself down a negative path—be in that moment, at that time, and be excited about the things that are happening,” he said.

He adds that making a plan during good times can help producers manage stress when prices turn.

“It’s ok to be in that moment and take advantage of those opportunities,” said Karbowski. “Don’t let a good thing turn into a negative—don’t let it spiral so that it becomes a bad stress. If you don’t have a plan, start thinking about what that plan looks like and how this fits within that so you’re really capturing that moment.”

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