Weight Loss In Shift Work:

Why Is It So Hard To Achieve?

Lose weight concept with person on a scale measuring kilograms

When it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, weight loss would have to top the charts hands down – every single year, every single time.

But when you’re a shift worker – achieving this goal can become even harder to reach.

In fact you probably go to bed at night (or the day, depending on your shift), wondering if you’re ever going to get back to that svelt figure that you once had when you were 16 years of age.

OK, if that’s what you’re aiming for then we may need to readjust your goals a little!

However if you’re trying to lose weight around working crazy and irregular hours, it can often feel as though it’s one step forward, two steps back.

Sounding familiar?

Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard?

Well there are a number of reasons why but in a nutshell, whenever we’re sleep deprived our body essentially becomes biologically stressed (*).

Yep that’s right.

Our body is stressed even before we’ve walked through the front door and started our shift! (more…)

Shift Work Overwhelm:

Have You Ever Experienced It?

310dba55-2e6c-4ea0-a785-6123b389c1a8I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a pretty crazy couple of weeks with multiple exams and assignments due all around the same time, plus a bit of family stuff going on, as well as madly writing for a book proposal which is due in a couple of months’ time. So to say that I’ve been feeling a teensy, weensy bit stressed and overwhelmed is an understatement!

Have you ever felt this way?  Where you’re at a point of overwhelm that it almost paralyses you?

Well if you work shift work then I’m sure you have at some point in time, because it’s kind of similar to that feeling of working a string of early shifts in a row and trying to function on 4-5 hours of sleep a night AND keep it together!

It’s what we called overwhelm with a capital “O”!

You see, I had reached a point where I felt as though I had burnt my adrenal glands to a crisp with so many things on my plate (in addition to my University commitments) that I felt as though my head was spinning out of control.

And it was.

I was in a state of sympathetic nervous system dominance, otherwise known as the “Fight or Flight” response which is essentially our body’s built in survival mechanism which thousands of years ago – came in handy whenever our ancestors were getting chased by a wild boar.

Luckily for us, we rarely get to see a wild boar let alone be chased by one however those feelings of stress can be somewhat similar, and our body doesn’t know the difference between a real boar and a fake one. (more…)

Shift Work Stress: How To Protect Yourself From It.

Businesswoman overload appointmentsThe words ‘shift work’ and ‘stress’ certainly go hand in hand with one another because just lifting our weary body out of bed and into the upright position (at the most inhospitable hour), can be somewhat challenging and stressful!

In fact for a lot of shift workers one of the most common complaints we suffer from is adrenal fatigue which is essentially the over-use or over stimulation of this gland. One of the functions of our adrenal glands is to produce a hormone called cortisol which is designed to help protect our body from stress and also help to keep our immune system strong.

As you can appreciate, long term stress (and adrenal fatigue) for a shift worker can become even more damaging to our health when our actual job is stressful. Combine this with working irregular working hours and it can be a dangerous combination.

Of course stress can fall under an array of categories. Anything from time-restraints, high volume or high intensity workload or just having people shout and scream at us can elevate our heart rate and make us extremely anxious.

Picture a Triage Nurse in the Emergency Department on a Friday night – no thanks!

The second element to stress is in our ability to cope with stress – because ultimately, we are all quite different. We can react in different ways, perceive things differently and be more sensitive to certain situations than others.

After 20 plus years of working shift work I know my limitations. I can be thrown into a situation and end up feeling emotionally exhausted or I can watch a colleague be subjected to exactly the same scenario and they hardly flinch. To them it’s kind of like “water off a ducks back”.

And here lies the key to stress.  We can either do 1 of 4 things, or a combination of all four.

1. Learn to manage our reaction to stress – ie; enhance our coping mechanisms or remove ourselves from it whenever you can.

2. Become a less stressed out person! Easier said than done, but by this I mean take up things that will help to calm our body and mind. For example, yoga, tai chi or some other kind of meditation.

3. Eliminate the stress or if that’s not possible …

4. Quit your job.

That may sound a little dramatic but at the end of the day, unless we can escape to the peace and serenity of a Health Retreat (and never leave) – we are always going to have stress in our life in some way, shape or form.  We can never completely avoid it because life can throw us some curve balls – whether we want them or not.

But stress at work is certainly manageable to a degree.  There will be plenty of things that we can’t control (like severe under staffing), but we have to make the decision if we want to spend the rest of our life exposed to this type of stress or go and find something else to do.

If stress at work has reached a point where you feel as though you’re not coping anymore (but feel trapped with no way out), then begin by increasing your skills. Take up a new course, read more books. In essence, make yourself more valuable to prospective employers. At the end of the day as the late, great Jim Rohn once said:

“Your paycheck is not your employer’s responsibility, it’s your responsibility. Your employer has no control over your value, but you do.”

So don’t let shift work stress ruin your life – make it the reason and motivation to make it better.

Shift Work Stress and Job Loss – How It Can Turn Your Life Upside Down In An Instant.

Shift work stress is without a doubt, rife amongst shift workers throughout the world. But when you add job loss or the possibility of job loss into the equation, then it’s an entirely different ball game.

Now as an employee of Qantas, Australia’s national airline, I certainly became exposed to this type of uncertainty when our CEO decided to ground the entire fleet of aircraft due to ongoing industrial action.

And it goes without saying that it left all employees speechless – not to mentioned stressed and anxious about what was unfolding behind the scenes.

And having gone through a similar roller-coaster ride some 10 years ago when I lost my job with Austalia’s other airline, Ansett Australia, when it too became grounded but this time permanently, it would be fair to see that I am suitably “qualified” to know what job loss is all about, not to mention the stress that goes along with it.

You see apart from the death of a spouse or relative, job insecurity is regarded as one of the largest causes of stress. And given the uncertainty surrounding the recent grounding of the Qantas fleet, (and the somewhat stress and anxiety placed upon staff and customers alike) – I have to say that I felt the following quote was appropriate to share amongst my fellow shift working colleagues.

“Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.” ~ Glenn Turner.

Of course this quote applies to all aspects of our lives.

And I’m not going to deny stress – in particular shift work stress is nothing to be concerned about.

It most certainly is.

In fact any type of stress can cause damage to our overall health and well-being – both physically and mentally.

But having been through the whole job loss saga before, don’t let shift work stress (or any type of stress for that matter) – define your life.

Even though I would not wish this upon anyone, if you do end up losing your job for some reason, sometimes it can end up being the best thing that ever happens to you as you are forced to do something completely different with your life.

As Alexander Graham Bell once said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

So just remember that every closed door (in this case a loss of a job), might end up being the catalyst towards an entirely different change in career for you. In fact it may end up being one which is more enjoyable and satisfying than the one that you’re in right now.

And that of course, is always going to be a good thing.

Are You Feeling Tired All Of The Time? 5 Easy Steps To Help Reduce Stress In Your Life.

If you’re a shift worker who feels tired all of the time, then sleep deprivation can certainly be one of the main causes – but not the only one. In fact it may actually be stress that is causing you to feel so tired all of the time.

Because whenever you’re feeling stressed, it affects both your mental and physical well-being which can lead to an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion.

What is interesting is that we all react differently to stress. One scenario may feel extremely stressful to one person, however prove insignificant to another. It all depends on your beliefs and your own perception of a stressful situation.

The key to minimizing the effects of stress is to try and control the level of stress that you experience every day. You will also need to establish what causes stress in your life and make the necessary changes.

Working shift work alone is stressful – no question. Just getting up in the middle of the night or the very early hours of the morning is adding a lot of unnecessary stress on your body.

But if you can’t change the erratic hours that you work, what else can you do to help reduce stress in your life?

Step 1 – Find a hobby or get involved in some other relaxing activity.

Step 2 – Exercise regularly – it can help relieve any tension that you may feel.

Step 3 – Stop worrying! Because 90% of what we worry about never happens, so let go of these kind of thoughts for good.

Step 4 – Accept change – it’s an integral part of life. Stressing about something that you can’t change is only going to add to your fatigue.

Step 5 – Surround yourself with positive, like-minded people. They will help uplift and energize you, instead of making you feel even more tired.

So stop stressing and start relaxing, because when you do – your days of constant fatigue and tiredness will become a thing of the past.