When I signed up to work shift work all those years ago, nobody told me how hard it was going to be. Nobody warned me that walking around in a zombie-like state was actually going to be “the norm” for the next two decades of my life.
Not only did sleep-deprivation become a way of life – it was my life.
Along with sleep deprivation came a multitude of other issues – weight fluctuations, digestive complaints, stress, anxiety, loneliness, little energy to exercise. The list was endless.
Perhaps you can relate to some of these too?
Throughout my career, I also witnessed some pretty massive changes in the work place which I have to admit, at times, were pretty darn stressful.
Given all of these challenges, I always wondered if there really was a way to thrive working 24/7?
So many people before me had spent 10, 20, 30 and even 40 years working shift work leaving me intrigued. What had made them so resilient? Were they much more stronger than me – mentally and physically? Did it really come down to the survival of the fittest?
Well despite facing a bucket load of ups and downs throughout my career, I did eventually find a way to stay healthy (and keep my sanity as well). I’ve called them “My Top Five Tips to Surviving A 24/7 Roster” which I’ve outlined below:
1. Be organised – if you’re not organised then you’re going to be struggling from day one. When you work a 24/7 roster there is no routine. Every day and every week is different so make things easier for yourself by getting organised the day before – it will save you a lot of heartache in the long-run.
2. Make time for your friends and family – this is incredibly important. If you’re not careful you can end up leading a lonely life when you work 24/7 so it’s really important to find the time for friends and family. It can be a bit tricky around an erratic schedule but it can be done. Studies have shown people who live the longest have good social networks so make the effort to reconnect with your friends and loved ones.
3. Drink loads of water – water is hands down one of the easiest ways to help reduce the effects of chronic fatigue and the best part is it’s free! As Dr Batmanghelidj outlines in his book ‘Your Body’s Many Cries For Water: You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty. Don’t Treat Thirst with Medication’ , most of the population today suffers from tiredness because of dehydration which can be fixed quite easily by drinking more water every day.
4. Fuel your body up with nutrition – you cannot expect to feel energised if your diet consists of predominantly fast food. Your body needs nutritious food to keep it going (even more so when you’re running on next to no sleep) so only eat food which is going to energise you, and not take it away.
5. Surrender to sleep – if you’re tired then listen to your body. Nothing can replace sleep but a 20 minute nap can make the world of difference as it allows your mind and body to switch off completely and re-energize. Just like you recharge your batteries when they get low, give your body a bit of a mini-boost by allowing it the time to recharge as well.
So the next time you’re struggling to thrive in your shift working job, ask yourself this question. Am I applying the Top Five Survival Tips as outlined above?
Plus the next time you’re faced with changes in your workplace – try and remember the following quote by Charles Darwin (1809).
“It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”