I must admit when I first started shift work some 20 plus years ago, I was a young, enthusiastic 20 something year old ready to take on the world. When I found my first job as a Passenger Service Agent in the airline industry I really felt like I’d landed my dream job – pardon the pun!
However little did I know at the time, working shift work was going to present me with multiple challenges physically, mentally and emotionally – but it was also going to teach me a whole lot of other things as well.
Because let’s face it – most of us take our lives for granted and don’t think of the consequences of our actions … particularly at the tender age of 21.
So it’s not until we get older (and much wiser), that we begin to understand and appreciate what life and its many hurdles can teach us.
And the same can be said about shift work.
Here are 3 unexpected (but good) things you will discover from working shift work.
1. How valuable and fragile good health can be. Shift workers are prone to sickness and ill health so when we’re healthy – we cherish it! However when we’re young, fit and healthy we think we’re indispensible. Kind of like Jack Dawson from the block buster movie, the Titanic. And just like in the movie, life can change in an instant which is why a lot of shift workers learn to appreciate and value good health. They learn to nurture and foster it because they never know when (and if) this may change.
2. The importance of good quality sleep. When you work shift work sleep deprivation becomes the bane of our existence and you often feel like you’re forever trying to catch up on lost sleep. So when the alarm goes off at 3am or you have to soldier on through night shift – sleep becomes your priority. You realise that you cannot function on next to no sleep so for your own sanity (and that of your work mates); you make a concerted effort to ensure you’re tucked into bed at a reasonable hour.
3. The importance of friends and family. When you sign up to work shift work you effectively sign your family up to work shift work as well – whether they like it or not. So when you work irregular hours, spending time with your friends and family becomes a precious commodity as shift workers often miss family events due to work commitments. When you work long hours and on a rotational roster 24/7 you quickly learn to appreciate just how important your friends and family are and to make sure you allocate quality time with them whenever you can.
Working shift work is tough, that’s for sure.
However the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and struggling with the whole shift work thing, be mindful that its actually teaching you how to appreciate and value certain things in your life – often long before our ‘Nine-To-Five’ cousins even begin to realise it.