Unhealthy Shift Worker To Healthy Shift Worker – How To Make The Transition.

Healthy diet educationMaking the transition from an unhealthy shift worker to one which is vibrant and healthy can certainly be a tough and turbulent road.  In fact you may even think it’s beyond your reach as you endeavour to work (and survive) in an occupation which is known to cause havoc on our health.

But that’s perfectly understandable given we often feel as though we’re riding on some out of control roller coaster ride complete with sharp corners, steep inclines and plummeting drops!

Of course we don’t mind this sort of fun when we’re visiting SeaWorld or Movie World with our friends and family – but it’s definitely not enjoyable when we’re at work.

So how can we make the transition from unhealthy shift worker to healthy shift worker?  Or is it even possible?

Well I can only speak from personal experience which includes working shift work for over half my life, but my journey from being an unhealthy shift worker to a much healthier one certainly incorporated plenty of obstacles and challenges along the way.

In fact I’ll be perfectly honest.  It was a really tough road.

However after reaching a low point in my life (physically, mentally and emotionally) I knew I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing.  I just couldn’t keep going on this way.  I became so sick and unwell, and completely overwhelmed as to what to do next that not only did I come close to resigning once – but twice.

This was a defining moment for me because I didn’t really want to walk away from a job that I absolutely loved.

Nonetheless I just couldn’t see a way out.

I couldn’t see through the thick and murky shift work fog as to how I was going to achieve good health despite working 24/7.

That is until my sister gave me a book for Christmas by Jack Canfield called ‘The Success Principles:  How To Get From Where You Are To Where You Want To Be.’

As I read the first chapter titled – ‘Take 100% responsibility for your life” – it gave me goose bumps.  This book made me realise that although I may have signed up to a job which required me to sacrifice a certain amount of sleep, I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing (eating high amounts of processed and refined foods, doing next to no exercise, coming in to work with a “woe is me” negative attitude) – and believe that I was ever going to become healthy.

It was just never going to happen.

On the other hand, when I began to take 100% responsibility for my thoughts and actions – everything changed.

  • When I began to replace processed foods with nutritious, nourishing foods my fatigue began to lift.
  • When I began to incorporate regular exercise back into my life, my energy levels improved.
  • And when I began to replace my negative attitude for one which was more positive and grateful, my entire shift working career changed! Opportunities began to present themselves as people began to seek me out; asking me what was I doing? How did I transition from being such an unhealthy shift worker to one which was much healthier despite working 24/7?

Well I have to thank Jack Canfield (and my sister for buying me the book), because not only did he help me to take responsibility for my life, but he inadvertently helped me to improve my shift working health as well.

So can you transition from being an unhealthy shift worker to a healthy one?  Yes, you most definitely can – and it all begins by taking 100% responsibility for your life.

The Million Dollar Question: How To Stay Healthy When You Work 24/7?

Question markHow to stay healthy when you work 24/7 has got to be the million dollar question asked by shift workers everywhere, because let’s face it – shift work is a really tough occupation.

And the harsh reality is that staff turnover within a workplace can be very high because it’s just that – really tough.

It’s tough on us physically, emotionally, and certainly psychologically.

So here’s my top 4 ways to stay healthy when you work 24/7:

1.  First and foremost are you motivated to look after your health?  Because if you’re not, then it’s going to be an uphill battle to achieve good health. You don’t want to just take care of your health for the sake of it – good health should be your number one priority.

Look for inspiration from other people, seek out those who are really healthy and ask them – “What are you doing that I’m not?”

2.  Make sure you have a good network of supportive friends and family around you because working erratic hours can take a huge toll on our mental health.  When you hang around people who are supportive, and are a little understanding and empathetic towards your sleep-deprived lifestyle, it can help to diminish those feelings of isolation and loneliness that often appear in those who have to work 24/7.

3.  Eat healthy food – we hear this over and over again but eating healthy food is vital in order to maintain our health.  Eat foods that are as close to nature as possible – that is, not refined or processed.  A good variety of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables are loaded with macronutrients, minerals and phytochemicals which are going to help give your body a fighting chance to feel the best it can under the circumstances.

It’s also about listening to your body.  If you eat something then feel awful afterwards that’s your body’s way of telling you – “Please don’t give me any more of that!”

4.  Exercise – our bodies are designed to move.  They are not built to sit on a chair all day, use elevators or sit for long periods in a car.  In order to be healthy we have to move.  Think back thousands of years ago when there were no motor vehicles, computers or lifts.  We had to walk, stand or run to get from A to B.

So try not to give up and feel totally disillusioned when you work shift work. The harsh reality is that you’re never going to feel like an energizer bunny when you work irregular hours.  The consistent lack of sleep will always prevent you from feeling 100%, but when you stress less and implement small changes into your life – your body will become much healthier as a result.

Shift Work Job Satisfaction – What’s Your Tipping Point?

BalanceFinding a job which is enjoyable, challenging and invigorating can certainly be a hard thing to do. Actually it can be very hard thing to do.

So if you struggling to find some kind of shift work job satisfaction, have you ever asked yourself “… what’s my tipping point?”  That is, is there something or someone that will “tip you over the edge” and encourage you to finally hand in that resignation?

Because despite what you may think – you really should have a tipping point.

Why? Well we all know people who whinge and complain whenever they are at work. And the funny thing is most never do anything about it.  Instead without any care or consideration for their fellow workers, they sap the energy from those around them with their constant negativity.

Unfortunately negativity breeds more negativity and makes everyone around then feel even more tired than what you may already be feeling.

I’m sure you would agree that working shift work is tough. Really tough, but if the bad outweighs the good then maybe it’s time for a change.  Ask yourself. Am I really happy at work? If not what will it take to finally give me the courage to quit and find something else to do? Here are some ideas to ponder.

* Will it be an altercation with a customer or a colleague?
* Will it be because you’re sick and tired of getting up in the middle of the night to go into work?
* Will it be a sudden decline in your health?
* Will it be because you desperately want to follow your passion and do something that you enjoy?

Whatever it is, write it down. Keep it in your pocket and look at it every day, because whatever you focus on will eventually become a reality.

Let me explain what I mean by this.  After 21 years in the aviation industry – all working shift work, I decided it was time for a change so when an offer of voluntary redundancy popped up in my workplace, I decided to take the plunge and put up my hand not knowing if I was going to be successful or not.

I then focused and focused on making this dream become a reality.  I wrote down the following paragraph on a card and carried it with me for months.

“I’m so happy and thankful for receiving a redundancy from Qantas, with my last shift being on the 28th of October 2014”.

9 months later I was given my redundancy.

My last shift was on the 28th of October 2014.

So as bestselling author Brian Tracy once famously quoted:  “Whatever you believe with feeling, becomes your reality.”

So don’t reside yourself to a life of total shift work dissatisfaction. If the bad really outweighs the good, then find a way to bring change into your life – start learning new skills, join workshops, network with other people.  The options are endless.  Remember you only get one life, and once chance to do something with it so you may as well go out and do it.

Shift Work Training – Is It Really Necessary?

As a shift work veteran and trainer, I often wonder is shift work training really necessary. That is, is it absolutely necessary to give people an induction and heads up on what they’re about to get themselves into?

The simple answer to that is absolutely.

Starting any new job can be stressful at the best of times, but when you’re about to undertake a role that involves working crazy and erratic hours I feel that companies and organisations have an obligation to inform and educate their staff on the perils of having to work shift work.

You see the benefits of shift work training are two-fold.

When you provide new staff (and existing staff for that matter), with the knowledge and tools to help them to cope with having to work irregular hours sick leave decreases, morale increases and even more beneficial to any organisation – productivity increases.

Increased productivity means increased profits.

We all know that’s a win-win scenario for everyone.

Now when I think back to my very first day of working shift work (gosh that was so many years ago now), I have to say that I was never really given any shift-work training per se.

I had a very intensive month of training which included product and system knowledge which provided me with the tools to undertake my job, but I certainly received no training (or warning) on what was about to happen to my overall health and well-being from having to get up at 2:00am in the morning.

I’ve had many, many shifts over the years which have required me to start at 3:00am (as I’m sure you can relate too), and they hurt – really hurt.

And the once friendly and harmonious relationship which existed between my alarm clock and I soon began to head down a rather perilous and downward spiral. In fact I could safely say it was skating on thin ice because I really, really struggled with shift work when I first got started.

In fact to this day I still struggle – but I’ve since become much wiser and now take more responsibility for my health that I ever did before.

And here lies the key. As good as shift work training is – if you’re not prepared to take responsibility for your life, then any type of training is going to be a waste of time.

Which is why I have listed my Top 5 Shift Work Training Tips as below:

1. Take responsibility for your health. You are in total control on what does and does not go into your mouth – no exceptions.

2. Focus on improving the quality of your sleep as opposed to stressing out on how little little sleep you are getting.

3. Keep moving. To stay energized our bodies need to exercise. Even if you’re feeling totally exhausted, try and allocate as little as 10 minutes a day to exercise. A leisurely walk around the block can work wonders on your mental and physical health.

4. Enlist your family and friends for support. Their help and understanding when it comes to certain sacrifices that you will have to make will make a huge difference to your life – both in and out of work.

5. Stop eating junk. Your body needs high quality, nutrient dense food in order to function at its peak. Just like you car won’t run on contaminated fuel, nor will your body move easily if it’s carrying extra weight and toxins.

Each and every one of these elements are critical in improving any employees overall health and well-being, but even more so when you work shift work.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly wish somebody had shared those 5 simple tips with me before I started shift work some 21+ years ago … it would have been a much smoother and less perilous roller-coaster ride!

Organic Versus Non-Organic: Which One Should You Choose?

In my quest to become a ‘healthy shift worker’ and to inspire others to become the same, I’ve always tried to include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables into my diet because they’re quite simply, Mother Nature’s Golden Ticket when it comes to first class nutrition.

So whenever I’m compiling my weekly menu plan which incorporates nourishing, nutrient-dense and energizing meals (to help combat my “too tired to cook” theory around working 24/7), I always ensure my weekly shop includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Of course whenever I’m feeling totally exhausted and way too tired to cook (often after a string of early shifts), I often whip myself up a green juice or smoothie containing fresh fruits and vegetables as they’re easily digestible and the nutrients can be quickly absorbed into the bloodstream resulting in more energy for my tired, sleep-deprived body.

But when I read a report a few years ago on the pesticide levels which can be found in some fruits and vegetables, I was flabbergasted to discover such high levels had been detected in so many of those which I would consume every day.

The same can be said when you spray your fruit and vege patch in the backyard with chemicals to scare away those nasty bugs and insects, as well as using fertilizer to help enhance growth and make your fruits and veges “look nicer”, you have to remember that you’re going to be ingesting these toxic chemicals too. Chemicals don’t just wash off in water which is why it’s really important to buy organic wherever possible to help reduce the toxic overload on your body.

According to the US Department of Agriculture and Environmental Working Group, the biggest offenders and highest pesticide levels can be found in the below:


Closely followed by:


So don’t be perturbed by the funny looking certified organic fruit and vegetables usually found stashed in the back corner of most local grocers, it just means they haven’t been subjected to a plethora of toxic chemicals and substances. Not only are they incredibly good for you, but they taste how Mother Nature intended them too – that is, loaded with heaps of flavour!