Telephone & online counselling for Farmers, Rural & Northern Manitobans.


Signs & Symptoms of Stress

Stress Performance Connection

Stress is a normal human reaction to events that we perceive as challenges or threats. Stress can be either positive or negative. Positive or "good stress" helps us to overcome daily challenges and accomplish things we thought were impossible. For example, the firefighter rescuing someone from a burning building, the student writing a difficult exam, or the farmer harvesting before the snow flies are all examples of people operating under good stress or "eustress". However, when a difficult situation goes on a long time, seems to be beyond your control, and/or is not successfully resolved it can result in bad stress or "distress".

People experience stress is a variety of ways. Sometimes people respond by isolating themselves and/or by trying to ignore the effect that stress is having on them or the people around them. Some people become angry with others or take all the blame upon themselves. These are just a few examples of the many ways people respond to high stress levels.

Farm, Rural & Northern Stress

Rural and northern communities have undergone many changes over the past decade. Challenges faced by people living in rural Manitoba and the North can include: access to health care and other services, higher costs of living (housing, food and transportation), lower unemployment rates, and (in some regions) de-population. Indigenous peoples have been impacted by colonization (including intergenerational trauma as a result of residential schools). 

Farmers also have many unique and challenging stressors that affect their financial 'bottom line' and therfore their mental health. These include: intense and changing weather patterns, pests, volatile markets, high input costs and low margins, government policies etc. Research has shown that farmers have higher stress levels and lower help-seeking behaviours than the general population.

Many of the challenges affecting people in rural and northern communities are complex and can feel beyond one's control, creating high levels of stress. 

Here are a few signs of stress:


  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Headaches, aching neck and shoulders,backache
  • Sleep pattern disturbed (difficulty sleeping,or sleeping too much)
  • Weight change (Over-eating or no appetite)
  • Chronic fatigue
Emotional / Mental
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Anger
  • Feeling uncertain / overwhelmed
  • Loss of emotional control
  • Helplessness/hopelessness
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Loss of interest in work / social activities
  • Increased drinking, smoking, drug use
  • Withdrawal from friends, family
  • Sexual problems
  • Parent-child and marital conflicts
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Angry Outbursts
  • Impaired concentration
  • Forgetfulness and confusion
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Negative self-talk
  • Challenge of faith
  • Emptiness
  • Loss of meaning
  • Doubt

» Managing Stress