Shift Working Lifestyle – How Healthy Is Yours?

Fitness designI was sitting in a Pathology class yesterday listening to my lecturer talk about cardiovascular disorders and I couldn’t help but feel despondent.  Why?  Because as I sat there with my “shift-working-thinking-cap-on” lifestyle factors kept coming up in conversation – a LOT.

Lifestyle factors that is, which are causing most of the chronic diseases that we seeing in society today.

Of course our shift working lifestyle is certainly hazardous thanks to ongoing and relentless sleep deprivation which contributes to overwhelming feelings of tiredness making us incredibly vulnerable to sickness and disease.

In fact there are many clinical studies which indicate shift workers in particular are at much greater risk of having a heart attack, developing breast cancer, obesity, diabetes, depression – to name a few.

But (and it’s a big “but”), there are so many PREVENTABLE factors which are leading us down the path of chronic disease and illness which of course includes poor lifestyle choices.

I’m going to type that again to emphasis my point – poor lifestyle choices.

Yes that’s right – choices.

Whilst we may not have any control over our roster (that would be awesome), we all have a CHOICE on whether we decide to make health our number one priority.

It’s really that simple.  When we decide to:

  • Lose weight
  • Reduce our salt, alcohol and sugar intake
  • Quit smoking and
  • Commit to regular exercise then we are helping ourselves.

So the next time you’re speaking to a practitioner for advice on keeping healthy and staying well (whether that’s a doctor, naturopath or a nutritionist), don’t ask them “what can you give me to fix this?”

Instead ask them “what can I do to help fix myself?” because at the end of the day, good health is not all about quick fixes and taking packets of pills.  By simply changing our lifestyles to much healthier ones will go a long way to improving our shift work health.

Shift Work Roster – How Friendly Is Yours?

upside down clockIf you’re someone who works rotating shifts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week then no doubt you crave to have the occasional weekend off or at the very least, have a Saturday sleep in so that you can go and watch the kids play a game of soccer.

But the harsh reality for most shift workers is that it means having to give up a lot of Sundays and battling a shift work roster that is not particlarly friendly for having any kind of social life.

That being said, how good does it feel when you can head down to the beach or go to the movies in the middle of the week when the rest of the population is working?

Pretty darn good I think! In fact it’s one of the many ‘perks’ to working shift work.

Yet many of us focus on all of the negatives associated with having to work irregular hours (in particular the not-so-friendly shift work roster), and end up living a deflated and unfulfilling life.

So how can you manage to keep sane and happy – despite having to work ruthless hours? Well I’m going to be realistic here, unless you’re able to win lotto or you decide to throw in the towel and join the ‘Land of the Nine-To-Fivers’ – you’re probably going to have to continue the battle with your shift work roster.

But there are 3 simple things which you can do which will make going back to work not so bad.

1. Concentrate on the simple things in life. So many of us get caught up in all of the bells and whistles of a life that we forget to keep things simple. Forget about trying to “keep up with the Jones” – you don’t have to have the new car, a designer outfit – it really doesn’t matter.

2.  Shift from the negative to the positive.  It’s so easy to whinge and complain about all of the bad stuff in our life (particularly when those around us are doing the same thing), but try and focus on the positive.  There are always so many things to be grateful for but we often don’t see them because we’re wrapped up in all of the negative stuff.  Try this exercise tomorrow – go 24 hours without complaining (not even once), then watch how your life starts to change.

3.  Roster versus no roster.  Whilst our 24/7 lifestyle calls for getting out of bed at some pretty hospitable hours (and there are plenty of areas in the roster which could be improved for the better), just remember that there are plenty of people in the world that would absolutely LOVE to do what you do.  Whether it’s due to sickness or an ability to secure employment, be grateful for your job because there are many people who would actually love to be in your shoes – even with those dreaded 4am starts!