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The relaxed livestock farmer: The effect of coping strategies and leisure activities on farmer wellbeing and stress

Farmers experience higher levels of stress and low wellbeing compared to non-farmers. This can be attributed to experiencing general stressors, such as interpersonal disagreements, and farm-specific stressors, such as severe weather events. Previous research has found coping strategies reduce stress and improve wellbeing. However, it is not known how coping strategies and leisure activities affect the wellbeing and stress of farmers in Aotearoa New Zealand. The research questions explored what leisure activities farmers use to unwind, how leisure activities and coping strategies affected wellbeing, and whether coping strategies moderated the relationship between stressors, wellbeing, and stress. 131 participants completed a questionnaire measuring wellbeing, stress, coping, leisure, and farm stressors. A content analysis grouped leisure activities and barriers into meaningful groups. A paired samples t-test found farmers significantly prefer to engage in more leisure activities than they engaged in currently. A hierarchical regression found the coping strategies, behavioural disengagement (b = 2.18, t = -3.48, p < .01) and self-blame (b = -0.81, t = -2.01, p = .05), significantly and negatively predicted wellbeing. Finally, a moderation analysis found Social Coping moderated the relationships between farming finance and wellbeing (ΔR² = .06, F(3, 112) = 8.39, p < .01), isolation and wellbeing (ΔR² = .03, F(3, 112) = 4.12, p = .05), and social satisfaction and wellbeing (ΔR² = .05, F(3, 117) = 8.20, p < .01). Dysfunctional Coping moderated the relationship between time pressure and wellbeing (ΔR² = .05, F(3, 103) = 8.52, p < .01) and time pressure and stress (ΔR² = .05, F(3, 105) = 10.47, p < .01). In conclusion, improving coping strategies, particularly social coping, may increase wellbeing among farmers.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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