Shift Work And Mobile Phones: Why The Two Don’t Mix Well Together.

mobileNow I’m going to show my age again here, but when I first started shift work nearly 20 years ago I desperately needed help with my fatigue. So much so I decided to spend an entire week at a Health Retreat in the beautiful hinterland region of the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia in the hope that it may help to recharge my energy-depleted batteries.

At the time I was 23, but felt almost 50.

Now as a part of the ‘terms and conditions’ for staying at this health retreat – all phones, newspapers, radios, TV’s and computers of any kind were contraband. Not only were we going to improve our physical health by exercising and eating well, but we were also going to clear out all of the mental clutter (be it for just one week) – to help rejuvenate our mind to where it should have been.

Fast forward 7 days – I left that health retreat a completely different person.

As I sat back in my car and began the long drive back along the highway I felt like I had been away for a month. The time away from phones, TV’s and computers had worked wonders on my mental and physical health.

Of course we can’t all go and book ourselves into a health retreat every week. A pity really because I must admit, I got quite used to having someone cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for me every single day! But even though it’s not easy to eliminate all of the mental ‘noise’, there are things that we can do to reduce it to one which is less noisy and distracting.

Of course things were a whole LOT different back in 1994.  For instance mobile phones were used for just that – making phone calls, but fast forward to 2014 we can now send texts, scroll the Internet, watch videos, comment on social media sites, get directions … it’s just endless!

Quite simply we are living in a world where we’re constantly subjected to information and interruptions which can be incredibly draining – both physically and mentally.

Now undeniably sleep deprivation rates as one of the largest causes of shift work fatigue but have you ever thought how your mobile phone may be adding to this fatigue?

If you are like me, you’re probably in denial because we all love our mobile phones – well outside of work anyway.

In fact I have to admit I’m even cringing a little as I write this post as I’m definitely guilty of spending way too much time glued to the phone and scrolling through social media sites!

However spending a lot of time on your mobile phone when you work shift work may not be particularly good for you because it can sap your energy.

Quite literally information overload causes fatigue.

In most workplaces today we are inundated with emails, mobile phones, alarms, pagers an array of other things, all vying to grab our attention.

In fact some studies have found emissions from mobile phones can even cause sleep disturbances and depression. Not a particularly good mix when you work shift work.

So given its 2014 and we’re living in such a high tech environment, it can be a bit tricky to eradicate all of this unwanted “noise” and constant interruptions. But there are things that you can do which can make a huge difference in your mental fatigue such as taking some time out to silence the mind. By this I mean shutting out all of the noise and chatter, and just relaxing – both mentally and physically.

When you silence the mind you block out incoming messages from entering both your physical and mental space.

It’s a bit like turning a switch to the ‘off’ position. Or putting it on pause, at the very least.

Try doing the following for just one day and notice how much better you feel both physically and mentally.

1. Turn off the TV. Engage in conversation instead of watching others in conversation on the telly. It’s much more restful when you don’t have to be subjected to the blaring ad breaks every 5 minutes.

2. Avoid Social Media. In today’s world so many of us have become glued to things like Facebook, Bing, Twitter and YouTube – it has quite literally taken over our life. Have a ‘No Social Media Day’ and get outside in the fresh air instead. Go for a walk, a swim or catch up with a friend and have a real conversation instead of one via a computer or hand held gadget.

3. Turn off your mobile phone. Believe it or not – you can survive without your mobile phone. If people want to contact you, they will find a way. Having your phone with you 24/7 is only adding to your mental clutter which in turn adds to your fatigue.

So if you really want to reduce your shift worker fatigue turn off your mobile phone, telly and computer – even if it is just for one day. Mankind has managed to survive without all of these things for hundreds of years so I’m sure you will be fine without them for just 24 hours :-).

Shift Work Jobs. Are You Really Cut Out For One?

shift work jobAs I write this post, somewhere in the world right now it’s the middle of the night and even though most are sound asleep and tucked into bed, there will be someone, somewhere – working.

In fact there are literally millions of people on the planet who work in some kind of job involving shift work.

There are also many who work in roles that are not technically classified as shift work, but due to the extra hours placed on employees to get a job done, many employers expect their employees to stay back and work after hours – many of whom are unpaid.

The sad reality is we are becoming a society that never stops.

24/7 is becoming the new 9 to 5.

So if you’re new to shift work or about to begin a shift working job, have you thought deeply about what you’re about to embark on? That is, whether you’re really cut out for working irregular hours.

Because shift work is hard, and it’s certainly not for everyone.

I remember my first shift working job interview (at the tender age of 21) was for a Passenger Service Agent position working at the international airport.  The 3 person panel interviewers did not mention anything to me about how working irregular hours was going to impact on my personal health and well-being.

And it does. Enormously.

Of course it’s not all doom and gloom.  It’s about being prepared.

Here’s a few ideas to help get you started.

1. Be very organised. Plan your meals in advance and buy your groceries accordingly. So many shift workers experience ill health and weight gain soon after starting shift work because they feel too tired to eat properly. Always remember that the fastest and most convenient way to acquire food is not usually the healthiest.

2. Keep your friends and family informed.  Let them know when you’re working irregular hours because unexpected visitors and phone calls don’t help an already disrupted sleeping regime.

3. Keep your body moving. In many cases, exercise is the first thing to be given the flick when starting a new shift working job as your energy levels tend to flounder. The key thing to remember is that exercise will provide you with more energy, whereas no exercise will only escalate your fatigue.

So if you’re new to shift work and unsure whether it’s going to be right for you, give yourself a fighting chance by taking extra good care of your health. Make it your number one priority so that your transition from non-shift worker to shift worker is a much more enjoyable and easier one.

Shift Work Versus A Game Of Tennis: Which One Is More Exhausting?

Is working shift work harder than playing a game of tennis? Probably, but not if you asked the players currently competing in the Australian Open in Melbourne right now.

With a week of record temperatures (4 days of over 40 degrees), even the world’s best are struggling to overcome fatigue and extreme exhaustion.

Of course “fatigue” is a familiar word for shift workers everywhere with sleep-deprivation being the number one cause.

But what about dehydration? Because if you throw “dehydration” into the “sleep-deprivation” mix, then you’ve certainly got an uphill battle on your hands. Quite simply, if your body loses too much water then your cells, tissues and organs dehydrate making you feel weak, exhausted and even delirious.

Sounds like a typical day at the office when you work 24/7 doesn’t it?!!

Of course the obvious dietary sources to help overcome dehydration (and fatigue) is water itself along with other beverages (coconut water is awesome), but most of us underestimate the beneficial effects of our fruits and vegetables with some containing up to 90% water.

Percentage of Water in Selected Foods:

90-99%
Strawberries
Watermelon
Lettuce
Cabbage
Celery
Spinach
Broccoli

80-89%
Apples
Grapes
Oranges
Carrots

Source: ‘Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition’ by Rolfes, Pinna and Whitney.

So if you’re needing some extra help with fatigue and exhaustion (besides trying to get as much sleep as possible) …

* Make sure you’re incorporating more of the above fruits and veges into your diet each and every day – juicing is a great way to do this and

* Keep drinking water consistently throughout the day (remembering thirst drives a person to seek water, but it usually lags behind the body’s need – ie; keep drinking well before you begin to feel thirsty).

For those working in extreme heat conditions 24/7 (and most vulnerable to dehydration) – you might find taking the supplement “Megahydrate” particularly beneficial as research has shown this supplement significantly increases hydration at a cellular level and also helps with pain relief from headaches, sore muscles, and inflammation of the joints.

On that note, I’m off to watch a bit of the tennis on the telly (in the air-conditioning) with plenty of water on hand minus the heat!

A Post Early Shift Hangover Cure: Pad Thai With Kelp Noodles & Mystery Beetroot Juice …

Well here it is, my post early shift hangover cure (not to be confused with the alcoholic-beverage-type-hangover cure of course), just the “sleep-deprivation hangover” cure thanks to a 0415am start this morning!

Ahhhh … as a fellow shift worker I can here your sighs of empathy as you know exactly what I’m talking about. Or should I say – feeling.

Because whether it’s an early shift, night shift, or just a regular late shift they can all be physically and emotionally draining.

So I thought I’d share with you this easy (and incredibly tasty) recipe which is going to help put some zing back into your energy-depleted body courtesy of the One Ingredient Chef.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Kelp. Isn’t that seaweed? Yes it is but don’t worry, these noodles don’t taste fishy at all. They take on the flavours of this pad thai dish perfectly.

Ingredients (First)

½ cup light coconut milk
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon agave
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 jalapeno
1 teaspoon coriander
1 tablespoon grated ginger
Juice of two limes
1 green onion

Ingredients (2nd)

1 packet kelp noodles
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup shredded red cabbage
2 tablespoons basil, thinly-sliced

Step One

Begin cooking the noodles according to package instructions. If using kelp noodles, simply soak them in warm water for several minutes.

Meanwhile, add everything from the first list (coconut milk – green onion) into a blender to make the sauce. Once everything is well-combined, give the sauce a taste and adjust any ingredients as needed.

Step Two

Drain the noodles and return them to the pan. Then, pour in 90% of the sauce and toss to coat. In two separate bowls, mix the carrots and cabbage with the remaining sauce. Plate all the ingredients, sprinkle with lime juice and garnish with sliced basil.

Step Three (Optional) – but strongly recommended because this makes tofu taste sensational!

Cook some tofu and coat with agave garlic sauce as described in One Ingredient Chef’s link on – How to Cook Tofu.

Nutritional Benefits of Kelp

Kelp is a seaweed containing iodine which helps protect our immune system (shift workers are notorious for suffering from an impaired immune system). It also helps the thyroid gland to secrete thyroid hormones which regulate our metabolism. A well functioning thyroid helps speed up the metabolism thereby helping up us to lose weight. Another struggle amongst shift workers around the world.

P.S – If you’re wondering about the ingredients of the Mystery Beetroot Juice – I’ll have to get back to you on that one because hubby made it for me when I came home after work. How nice is he?

How Your Inner Critic, Or Inner Voice Can Actually Escalate Your Shift Work Fatigue.

Besides the physically draining aspects of having to get up at 3am to go into work or to soldier on through the middle of the night when you’re on night shift, there is something else which can deplete your energy levels even further and it’s called Your Inner Critic.

Your Inner Critic is simply a voice inside your head saying negative things about you with the intention of making you feel bad. This negative self-talk can be mentally and physically exhausting.

Your inner critic or inner voice can rob you of precious energy by bombarding your mind with negative and sometimes hurtful comments. In some instances this can make you question your ability and unravel your self-esteem.

In essence your Inner Critic can destroy your self-confidence and make you feel awful.

You may even have days when you feel like there is a little man sitting on your shoulder whispering into your ear reminding you of a time in the past when you did something wrong, which can be mentally and emotionally draining.

So not only do we often struggle with the physical demands of having to work irregular hours whilst working shift work, many of us underestimate what’s going on inside our brain and how it can unconsciously sap our energy levels.

In most cases this negative self-talk is completely irrational and self-defeating yet many of us actually believe them to be true.

Your inner critic can also put limitations on you by comparing yourself with other people, and even brush off a compliment given to you in good faith.

Do you remember the last time someone said something hurtful to you? How did it make you feel? Possibly quite deflated and unappreciated.

If fact unrelenting self-criticism can even lead to depression and anxiety as it harnesses feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

So how do you stop this inner critic or inner voice?

By silencing your Inner Critic and dragging out your Inner Coach to help energize and support you. Your Inner Coach is the calming, encouraging and nurturing voice inside of you.

It provides you with positive self talk.

Your Inner coach will help focus on your strengths rather than on your weaknesses which will help uplift and energize your physically exhausted body and make you feel mentally stronger.

If however, you feel at war with your Inner Critic and just can’t seem to find a way to stop the negative chatter inside your head, then you may like to enlist in some professional help and visit a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT focuses on your thoughts (both good and bad) and how your thoughts create feelings which in turn lead to certain behaviours.

When your thoughts are positive and encouraging, you automatically feel energized and have more of a spring in your step when you go into work each day.

As opposed to irrational, self-defeating thoughts which can leave you feeling fatigued and unmotivated – both at home and in the workplace.

So if you want to improve your energy whilst working shift work, enlist the help of your Inner Coach and at the same time – fire your Inner Critic. It doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy as it will require some work, particularly if you’ve had this negative chatter in your ears for quite a few years. But when positive self-talk outweighs the negative it can be one of the most uplifting and euphoric feelings you will ever have.