On top of everyday stressors, there is an extra layer of stress due to pandemic-related regulations affecting farms. It is a lot to handle and can take a toll.

Devaney kimmi
Editor and Podcast Host / Progressive Dairy

The only thing we can control is ourselves, and that is why managing personal energy levels is essential to staying energized and avoiding burnout.

I learned this the hard way in early 2019 when I pushed myself to the point of adrenal fatigue. I was literally running on adrenaline and far past the point of exhaustion. Passion can do that. We were in the midst of an industry crisis, and as one of the primary spokespeople, I felt that I would be letting everyone down if I took time for myself to work out at the gym or took a break to clear my mind. I wish I knew then what I know now about how to better manage the stress and stay energized amidst the chaos, and I hope this helps someone else navigate these challenging times.

Here are five tips to help manage personal energy when times get tough. Grab a pen and paper and jot down ideas from the various sections below.

1. Self-care

Prioritizing your needs and taking care of yourself is not selfish. Self-care includes adequate sleep, proper nutrition, regular exercise and activities that bring joy – just to name a few. While none of this is rocket science – nor does it sound exciting – small, everyday habits can make a huge difference. Since time is also in short supply, planning ahead, meal prepping on slower days, scheduling workouts and doing something fun every day may help. To get started, make a list of fun activities, enjoyable exercise and nutritious meals that are easy and delicious to make and add them to the schedule.


2. Take breaks and recharge

Knowing when to call it a day and when to take a break is important. Nobody is the energizer bunny, and rest is required. Recharging is different for everyone, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Recharging could mean taking a nap, reading a book, sitting on the porch, etc.

3. Exercise regularly

This is also included in the self-care section, but is worth repeating. Moving your body for 20 to 30 minutes (or more) can change your outlook on a tough situation. It helps if the exercise is enjoyable, so choose something you will look forward to and do not cancel on yourself. The “to do” list will still be there afterward.

4. Prioritize tasks to manage stress

Why is it that everything seems to be important and urgent in a challenging season? In most cases, not everything must be completed right now, and there are likely some tasks that can be delegated to others. Make a list of tasks and prioritize them based on importance and urgency. Also note if there are other people who can help with or complete the task instead.

5. Set boundaries to protect your time and energy

Boundaries are a beautiful thing but are much easier said than done. Boundaries clarify what you do and don’t do, as well as what is yours and not yours. They are important because they can protect your time and energy. It can be as simple as setting a 10 p.m. bedtime and sticking to it or deciding to work out each morning before going to the barn. Other people will certainly test these boundaries, but sticking to them will help solidify an energizing routine in the long run. For more about setting and maintaining boundaries, check out Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

Prioritizing self-care, establishing boundaries and taking time to recharge can take the edge off a hard season, or at least make it more bearable. Remember, prioritizing your needs is not selfish; it allows you to better serve those around you. What can you add to your daily routine to increase energy and decrease stress? end mark

Kimmi Devaney writes an agricultural blog: Email Kimmi Devaney.

Kimmi Devaney
  • Kimmi Devaney

  • Director of Communications and Industry Relations
  • Dairy Farmers of Washington