Putting Our Shift Working Jobs Into Perspective.

Having grown up in rural NSW and watched my house burn to the ground when I was just 7-years old, the images that we’re seeing right now of widespread bushfires around Australia is nothing short of heartbreaking.

The sheer devastation of loss including wildlife, livestock, property, vegetation and even human life, is gut-wrenching to see.

It’s why I feel it’s fitting to give a special shout out to all the firefighters who are on the front line, risking their own lives to help others 24/7.

Here’s just a snippet as to why:

✔️ Many of these firefighters are experiencing sleep deprivation on a whole new level.
✔️ Their “shifts” are longer than anyone should ever have to work.
✔️ They are having minimal meal breaks – if any.
✔️ Many are volunteers who have also taken leave without pay 💰 from their “real” jobs.
✔️ Despite being physically and emotionally exhausted, they keep going because they don’t want to let their communities down.
✔️ They are working in an extremely dangerous and hazardous environment 🔥.
✔️ They are subjected to a level of emotional distress that no one ever wants to experience – seeing countless burned wildlife and livestock, (and in some cases, the loss of human life).
✔️ Many are also working in the community in which they live. So when a house 🏡, or heaven forbid, a life is lost, it affects them right to the core.

So please join me in sending out an enormous gratitude of thanks for all of the incredible work that they are doing.

And the next time you’re experiencing a crappy shift at work, please keep in mind what the fire fighters are currently having to endure.

It definitely puts things into perspective and why they are truly deserving of the title of “HERO” – as I’m sure you would agree.

Audra x

HSW 95 – Exercise, Mental Health and PTSD with Beck Lawther.

Today we’re talking about the benefits of exercise when it comes to managing our mental health – in particular around the topic of PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with Beck Lawther, a Police Officer with the Victorian Police Service based in Melbourne.

Beck is also the co-founder of Triple Zero Fit, a personal training company which runs fitness sessions specifically for first responders and emergency services personnel who are struggling with PTSD, depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions.

Things we chatted about:

– What led Beck to set up PT4PTSD?
– Why taking a 9-5 job for a couple of years can be a great strategy to reset our physical and mental health
– Why simply getting to the gym can feel like an insurmountable task, especially for those suffering from PTSD
– How physical exercise stimulates hormone production that improves our mental health
– How you can become a volunteer personal trainer, or utilise some of the services offered by Triple Zero Fit

Links mentioned in the podcast:
Triple Zero Fit Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/triplezerofit/
Triple Zero Fit Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/triplezerofit/
The Code 9 Foundation – https://www.code9ptsd.org.au/

How Shift Work Can Affect Your Skeletal Muscle Health – And What You Need To Do About It.

The other day I caught up with a friend for a game of tennis, because the weather was absolutely spectacular and way too good to be spent inside!

Plus I’m also a huge fan of tennis ? (or more specifically Roger Federer ?) – and love the freedom of just running around the court to add a bit more movement into my day.

Whilst I’ve never been a huge fan of ‘exercise’ per se, I’m definitely a fan of ‘movement’, as there are so many positive health benefits from incorporating regular movement into our lives. Not only physically, but emotionally and psychologically too.

But did you know that shift work can impair our skeletal muscle health?

(more…)

HSW 43 – Happy People Pilot Program with Sharon Richens.

Healthy Shift Worker Podcast:

Happy People Program? How good does that sound?! Considering a happy workforce is always going to be way more productive when morale is high, and staff are feeling well, my first impression when I heard about this program is that it sounds too good to be true!

Just to put things into context, when I posted a link to an article on my Facebook page titled – ‘Pilot Program Launched to Support Hospital Shift Workers’ there was an overwhelming response from shift workers all over the world.

Like myself, they also wanted to know more about this program, so in today’s episode, I had the pleasure of chatting with Sharon Richens from Happy Body At Work, who is heading up this pilot program based out of Melbourne, that is designed to support hospital shift workers.

Sharon shares with us some of the specifics of how this pilot program worked, how it was delivered, who was involved, and some of the key industries that she hopes to extend the program too – in other words, not only to nurses and midwives, but to an array of different shift workers from various industries.

What I love about this amazing initiative, is that this program is all about YOU, the shift worker, and provides personalised tips on how you can take care of yourself whilst working in what can be at times, and incredibly challenging occupation.

Links mentioned on the podcast:

Happy Body At Work website – https://www.happybodyatwork.com.au/

Sharon’s email – sharon@happybodyatwork.com.au

Royal Women’s Hospital Article mentioned on the podcast

An Expanding Waistline – Why A Cosy Trip In The Flight Deck Left Me Anxious.

Man Waist FatOne of the major challenges I hear from shift workers is a constant struggle to lose weight.  An expanding waistline that seems to steadily creep up on us over the years and before we know it, we need to buy larger sizes of clothes in the hope that it may help to disguise this extra weight.

Of course a steady weight gain is not surprising really given our lethargic lifestyles and reliance on highly refined, processed foods to help curb our appetite whenever we are feeling too tired to cook.  However a few months ago when I was lucky enough to catch a ride home in the flight deck (one of the many perks when working in the aviation industry), something struck me which made me even more concerned about our expanding waistlines and the subsequent ill-effects that occur from being overweight.

As I strapped myself into the jump seat and listened in earnest to the emergency evacuation drill from the co-pilot, I could not help but feel a little concerned.  Whilst the co-pilot went through the evacuation process in the unlikely event that something catastrophic may happen to the flight, he directed me to the window which was above his right.  In other words, if we had to make an emergency landing we would be climbing through “his window” as a means of escape.  I said “sure – no problem”, but what I declined to ask (despite the question vigorously spinning around in my head), was how HE was going to get through that window.

You see, I’m a fairly lean and flexible person – thanks to a bit of walking, swimming and yoga I would have had no problem in jumping out that window if I absolutely had to.  But the the co-pilot, on the other hand … well let me just say that his waistline would have prevented both him and myself, from getting through that window in a hurry if the aircraft ever did have to make an emergency landing.

This left me really anxious.  Whilst I knew I could get out that window if I really had to, I felt like my life was in the hands of someone else – that his expanding waistline could have prevented my escape from a potentially life-threatening situation.

In Dr Pamela Peeke’s book, Fit to Live she asks her readers the following question – “Are you physically fit to live?”  Because as Pamela explains, to really enjoy life you need to have strength and balance, be able to stand up and see your toes, and be flexible.  However what is of even more importance is that if you were ever faced with an emergency situation (which I hope you never will), could you save your life?  Could you run down or up 10, 20, 30 or even more flights of stairs? Could you escape through a burning window or climb under a car if you had to?

You see, you don’t want to just be healthy. Health and fitness are not the same. You can be healthy but unfit at the same time. You need to be both. You need to be physically fit so that you can live your life the best that you possibly can, but also be fit enough to save your life (or that of another life) in the unlikely event that you were faced with an emergency situation.

I get that exercise or movement of any kind can be an incredibly hard thing to do when you’re feeling tired and lethargic.  As a 20 year shift work veteran I totally understand this quandary, but it’s something that you need to do regularly to help keep your waistline in check.

In essence, it’s not something that you want to avoid.  The good news however, is the fitter you become the more energy you will acquire which is a great motivating tool for any energy-depleted shift workerSo go on, find a way to get your body moving again so that you can get your waistline back in check because you never know when your life (and the life of others) may actually depend on it.