Yesterday I was invited to speak at an event titled ‘Love Yourself Masterclass’ for veterinarian and vet nurses here in Brisbane, because quite tragically, these practitioners have the highest suicide rate in the country.
Yes that was not a typo.
These incredible human beings that do an AMAZING job at taking care of our beloved pets are struggling. Struggling to take care of themselves as a result of a highly stressful and emotionally challenging work environment, that is affecting them physically, mentally and emotionally – right to the core.
This gut wrenching suicide statistic is 4 times higher than the average Australian, and twice as high as other medical professions.
So what can be done to support our mental health in the workplace?
Well there are many things, one of which is critically important, is sufficient quality sleep. Something that I spoke about in detail at this event yesterday because it actually trumps nutrition.
But I’ll save that for a separate post, because it deserves it’s very own.
In today’s post I want to talk about the importance of feeding our bodies with the right foods and nutrients, because this simple practice can make a DRAMATIC difference to our mental health.
According to research undertaken by Beyond Blue – 1 in 2 people are going to experience some kind of mental health condition in their lifetime, and 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental health condition in a year. Pretty profound statistics equating to approximately 20% of your co-workers (which may even include yourself), who may be struggling with some kind of mental health condition too.
For a lot of people however, including today’s podcast guest Tracey Rohweder, a Team Leader for PoliceLink in Queensland, the thought of telling anyone or wanting anyone to know that you are struggling mentally – can be terrifying.
As a wife and mum to 2 kids, along with being a shift worker for 17 years, Tracey Rohweder spent years hiding her anxiety and depression from her work colleagues, because she was constantly worried ” what will my boss think?” or “what will my workmates think?”
Despite her happy and bubbly external persona that she portrayed at work, Tracey was diagnosed with chronic anxiety and depression, yet did everything humanly possible, specifically at work, to make sure that nobody knew.
Which in her words was “exhausting”.
That is until one day, she decided to take the courageous step and share what she was going through with her work colleagues, because she didn’t want any of her “work family” to ever feel this way too.
Tune in to hear Tracey’s heartwarming and inspiring story, and what set her on the path to becoming a true leader in her workplace when it comes to managing the health and wellbeing of her fellow shift working workmates.
Links mentioned on the podcast:
To get in touch with Tracey – Rohweder.TraceyM@police.qld.gov.au
Other resources: Mindful Employer
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If you’re a shift worker then you would understand that working crazy and irregular hours is no easy feat.
The erratic shift schedules can place an enormous amount of physical strain on even the fittest and healthiest of individuals.
But what about your mental health?
Because let’s face it – mentally you have to be one tough cookie to be able to handle shift work.
The strain on relationships, in particular those who are closest to you can be enormous. In fact an overwhelming amount of shift workers struggle with having to work irregular hours every single day. So don’t think for a minute that you are alone.
Shift workers are more vulnerable to sickness including colds and flu, but it can even incorporate things like depression. Of course the severity of depression can vary amongst individuals, but what can you do to make yourself more resilient? How can you learn to bounce back mentally when faced with certain adversities?
Here’s my top tips for mentally preparing yourself for working 24/7:
1. Sit down and talk with your family. Recognising that there will be times when you need to be asleep when the rest of the household is wide awake and that you may not be able to attend all family events is a discussion that you need to have at the start of your career. It’s human nature to feel like we’re missing out whenever we’re unable to do something or be somewhere, so preparing yourself mentally is about recognising there will be times when you will have to make certain sacrifices, and that will include having to make your health (and sleep) – your number one priority.
2. Keep your emotions in check because whenever you’re in a state of overwhelming fatigue, you can say and do things that you would not normally do. The physical and emotional stress that comes from working shift work makes us vulnerable to being short-tempered and irritable so it’s important to recognise these emotions and changing how your perceptions to things happening around you.
So when you and begin to understand that working shift work is not just a physical battle, but also a mental one – your overall happiness and ability to cope at work will take on a dramatic turn for the better.