March 9 2018 08:00 AM

Just one minute of laughter can boost your immunity and relieve some stress.

"Don't worry. He just stopped to ask for directions."

As we trek through another year of depressed milk prices, stress is mounting on dairy farms all around the country. I can see the worry on the faces of my farmer friends and family. Our own Hoard’s Dairyman Farm is no different, as we feel the pinch and are pushed to make changes to help improve the bottom line.

Comedian and magician Lyndy Phillips recognized the stress those working in agriculture are under. In his presentation at the Midwest Forage Association and Wisconsin Custom Operators Symposium held in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., he addressed stress and, of course, laughter.

Phillips, from Bedford, Texas, shared that our brain works less efficiently when we are stressed. He said that when we are not thinking clearly, accidents happen.

According to Phillips, the top three causes of stress are work, relationships/family, and money/juggling finances. All of these factors are present in farming. Plus, Phillips pointed out that farmers are also dealing with weather, markets, and unexpected stress.

“Some stress is good,” he noted. “A little stress helps you operate at your peak maximum.”

The problem, though, is that an estimated 77 percent of people are feeling stress at any given time, and 33 percent of people are at chronic or extreme stress levels. The body tries to compensate by producing too much cortisol and adrenaline. This can lead to health issues such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Phillips said the top three signs of extreme stress are apathy, anger, and fatigue. He recommends removing yourself from it all for a few minutes to try to destress.

He also shared six ways to recharge:

  • Listen to music
  • Exercise/walk
  • Read/education
  • Prayer/meditation
  • Vacation
  • Laughter

It may be impossible to take a vacation or find time for exercise, but anyone can fit in some laughter. “There is humor everywhere if we watch for it,” he said.

When you laugh, the whole body relaxes. Phillips said that one minute of laughter boosts the immune system for 24 hours.

“It’s something you can do something about. Take a proactive approach. Your body will begin to heal,” Phillips explained. “If you don’t get a break, your body never gets to heal.”

Abby Bauer

The author is an associate editor and covers animal health, dairy housing and equipment, and nutrient management. She grew up on a dairy farm near Plymouth, Wis., and previously served as a University of Wisconsin agricultural extension agent. She received a master’s degree from North Carolina State University and a bachelor’s from University of Wisconsin-Madison.