Are You Mentally Prepared To Handle Shift Work?

If you’re a shift worker then you would understand that working crazy and irregular hours is no easy feat.

The erratic shift schedules can place an enormous amount of physical strain on even the fittest and healthiest of individuals.

But what about your mental health?

Because let’s face it – mentally you have to be one tough cookie to be able to handle shift work.

The strain on relationships, in particular those who are closest to you can be enormous. In fact an overwhelming amount of shift workers struggle with having to work irregular hours every single day. So don’t think for a minute that you are alone.

Shift workers are more vulnerable to sickness including colds and flu, but it can even incorporate things like depression. Of course the severity of depression can vary amongst individuals, but what can you do to make yourself more resilient? How can you learn to bounce back mentally when faced with certain adversities?

Here’s my top tips for mentally preparing yourself for working 24/7:

1.  Sit down and talk with your family. Recognising that there will be times when you need to be asleep when the rest of the household is wide awake and that you may not be able to attend all family events is a discussion that you need to have at the start of your career.  It’s human nature to feel like we’re missing out whenever we’re unable to do something or be somewhere, so preparing yourself mentally is about recognising there will be times when you will have to make certain sacrifices, and that will include having to make your health (and sleep) – your number one priority.

2.  Keep your emotions in check because whenever you’re in a state of overwhelming fatigue, you can say and do things that you would not normally do.  The physical and emotional stress that comes from working shift work makes us vulnerable to being short-tempered and irritable so it’s important to recognise these emotions and changing how your perceptions to things happening around you.

So when you and begin to understand that working shift work is not just a physical battle, but also a mental one – your overall happiness and ability to cope at work will take on a dramatic turn for the better.


  1. Ingrid

    It is the ‘mental toughness’ of shift work and all that it involves, that is by far the most challenging aspect of working irregular hours (even when you love the work you do).

    • Audra

      Ingrid your comment is so true. It’s the mental toughness of having to work irregular hours that is by far the most challenging. Unfortunately it’s overlooked by many companies around the world who employ shift workers – as most employees are left to find ways to cope on their own.


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