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 31: Self Care and Balneotherapy with Elizabeth Greenwood.

Healthy Shift Worker Podcast Episode:

Self care is super important for shift workers because our bodies are already biologically stressed as a result of working against our natural circadian rhythms or body clock. That being said, for most people, self-care can be an incredibly hard thing to do, as we often feel guilty of assigning some “me time” to ourselves.

So this week, I invited Naturopath and Aromatherapist Elizabeth Greenwood to talk to us about self-care, including one particular form – that being Balneotherapy.

In this episode, Elizabeth explains why self care is essentially working out what best works for you, as we are all very different, and why it doesn’t have to involve going to a health retreat or undertaking some kind of fancy detox. It can just mean doing something little each day, something that is both practical and sustainable, and that you can integrate into your own shift working lifestyle.

Elizabeth also shares her passion for Balneotherapy, which is a type of water therapy similar to that found in a natural thermal spring, and is great for the mind whilst also allowing us an opportunity to take some well-deserved “time out”, which is vitally important for those who run on little sleep.

To find get in contact with Elizabeth:

Email – embody@me.com

Balneotherapy FB page

“I Can’t Do This Anymore!”

The Day I Turned My Shift Working Life Around.

quit

To anyone who has ever worked shift work before, you will know how incredibly tough and at times downright exhausting it can be.  In fact, I remember coming home from work one day after an extremely stressful day (on top of it being my fourth early shift in a row), taking my shoes off and proceeding to curl up into the foetal position on the floor in the spare bedroom and saying to my husband – “I can’t do this anymore”.

I’d reached a point of burn out. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.

Every muscle in my body ached from top to toe, my sleep-deprived brain felt completely drained, and I became overwhelmed with emotion when my husband wrapped his supportive arms around me triggering an outpouring of tears down my face.

I felt completely and utterly lost.  I loved my job, but due to circumstances beyond my control – the dynamics of the workplace had changed.

A change in management had brought about changes to our work practices, including our rosters – but without any consultation with the staff.  This resulted in over 100 resignations over an 18 month period, from a workforce of 300.

Quite simply, despite many years of service, my workmates had reached a point where they’d become burnt out and had enough.

It was an incredibly emotional time – and one that I will never forget.

A stressful workplace is hard enough to navigate through at the best of times, but when it’s coupled with ongoing sleep deprivation thanks to our 24/7 lifestyle, it can wear us down to our very core.

Nonetheless throwing in the towel and quitting my job at the time for me, was not an option.  Like most young couples we had a mortgage and bills to pay, and despite the ongoing sleep-deprivation and changes which were occurring in my workplace at the time, I still really loved my job and wasn’t ready to hang up my alarm clock for good – just yet.

In fact, all I really needed was someone to tell me “I know it’s hard Audra, but you’re going to be OK.”

But there was no-one. No-one to put my mind at rest and tell me that despite the rigours of working 24/7 – I was going to be OK.

Perhaps you can relate to these feelings too? (more…)

Standing All Day? The Perfect Solution To Recharge Your Weary Legs and Feet.

Young woman relaxing on hardwood floorI’m sure we all agree that shift work can be physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting.  We can definitely blame continual sleep deprivation as the reason for our zombie existence.

But what about when you have to stand on your feet all day long?

Because there are a lot of shift working industries that require their employees to be standing for long durations at a time.  Some of which may include flight attendants, doctors, nurses, security staff – the list is endless.  However the downside of this is that it has the potential to make you feel even more tired and exhausted.

So if your shift working job requires you to stand on your feet all day long, then I’ve got the perfect solution for you.

It’s called “Putting Your Feet Up The Wall” pose, or in yoga language Viparita Karani.

Whilst our bodies are not designed to be sitting all day long either, standing for long durations at a time can be quite tiring causing our legs and feet to ache leading to a build-up of tension in other parts of the body.

So as a regular yogi, this is exactly why I love Viparita Karani.

This restorative yoga pose is perfect to do after work (or even at work during a break in your shift), as it has so many benefits, particularly after a busy and hectic day running around on your feet.  And the best thing is that you can do it from the comfort of your own home.  You just need a wall, which thankfully most homes do have!

Benefits of Putting Your Feet Up The Wall

  • Helps to calm a busy mind
  • Reduces swelling (oedema) in the legs and feet
  • Helps to relieve back and shoulder tension
  • Boosts the immune system by stimulating the lymphatic system to remove toxins from the body
  • Relieves stress and tension in the legs and feet
  • Helps to slow down our breathing, and calm our nervous system
  • Can also help to improve sleep and digestive complaints

How To Do The Viparita Karani pose:

  1. Place a folded blanket or yoga mat about 1 foot from the wall.
  2. Sit sideways against the wall with knees bent.
  3. Slowly lower your back and head onto the floor and rotate your buttocks around so they touch the wall.
  4. Lift and lean both legs up the wall and relax feet and ankles.
  5. Place a cushion under head and/or neck for support.
  6. Let arms rest palms up or down about a foot away from body.
  7. Cover eyes with eye pillow or small towel.
  8. Breathe slowly and deeply and rest for at 10-15 minutes.

Or better still, watch this short 6 minute video from Yoga With Adriene to show you exactly how!

So go on, take the time to put your feet up and relax – because you definitely deserve it.

Shift Work Nutrition: One Of My Favourite Foods

Healthy Homemade Avocado Toast

I hope you’re having a great week, whether you’re working or happen to be one of the lucky ones on days off or perhaps even on holidays!

It was back to Uni for me this week so I’m super-excited but a little nervous at the same time.  It’s been quite a few years since I’ve studied full-time so no doubt it will come with a few challenges however my passion for nutrition specific to shift work health, is my motivating force so I’m sure I’ll find a way to get through it and come out alive!

So this week I’m going to talk about one of my favourite shift work foods and that’s the Avocado.

Whilst I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all diet for shift workers (because we are all very different), I certainly believe that some foods are much better for those of us subjected to constant sleep-deprivation than others.

Human beings are unique creatures.  Each and every one of us has different nutritional requirements which is why no two diets should ever be the same.

However I do believe the majority of shift workers would benefit from consuming avocados on a regular basis.

And yes, I am referring to that weird oval shaped thing which is actually full of saturated fat, but it’s the fat found in avocados which provide us with so many health benefits.

Its unfortunate (thanks to a lot of clever marketing over the years), that we’ve been led to believe that a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet is actually the way to go.  We’ve been brain-washed to believe this kind of diet will help to keep us healthy and slim.

But is “low fat” really a healthy option?

No – because our bodies need fat.  Good fats that is.  I’m not talking about the highly refined trans and polyunsaturated fats but the good fats and oils which include omega 3 fatty acids.

Here’s 3 great reasons to include avocados in your diet:

1.  They help support cognitive function as our brain receptors need fat! Continual sleep deprivation contributes to cognitive decline and memory loss so having an avocado every day is going to help slow down this degenerative process.

2.  They help to reduce inflammation in the body, as they contain phytosterols and polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs).

3.  They support our digestive tract as they contain a high amount of oleic acid, a fatty acid which assists in the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like carotenoids. Considering shift workers are notorious for suffering from gut and digestive complaints, including avocados in our diet is definitely a step in the right direction towards reducing some of the effects of this sometimes embarrassing and painful complaint.

So please don’t be scared of eating fat!

Our bodies need fat so get stuck into the good stuff like avocados as well as olive oil, organic butter, free range eggs, walnuts and Brazil nuts.  These natural whole foods are going to support your body and help you to function as best as it possibly can – despite working some pretty ruthless hours 24/7.

P.S:  Avocados are also great at stabilizing blood sugar levels which help to keep those sugar cravings at bay so no more visits to the vending machines!