Shift Work Stress – How Munching On A Stick of Celery Can Actually Help Calm You!

Do you have days when you experience shift work stress? When you just want to go home and close the front door, unplug the phone and go and hide in a closet for a few hours?

I don’t know about you but I’ve certainly had days like this.

As shift workers we are prone to experiencing stress. Just getting out of bed in the middle of the night is adding unwanted stress on our already fatigued bodies.

But stress every now and then is not a bad thing; in fact it can actually be a good thing. But if you are exposed to stress on a regular basis, then your adrenal system can become run down as it over produces the hormones which are designed to help.

This can in turn lead to nutritional deficiencies and an exhausted adrenal gland.

So besides quitting your job (which is probably quite tempting for a lot of people), what else can you do to help lower your stress levels?

Go and grab something to eat!

Now I don’t mean eat anything. I mean food that is rich in nutrients that will support your adrenal glands.

So, what foods are good for your adrenal glands?

1. Celery – contains nutrients that can help calm you and lower your blood pressure. In fact a stalk of celery before bedtime can actually improve your sleep! (Who ever would have thought of that?!)

2. Sunflower seeds – rich in Potassium and Vitamin B which play a critical role in the health of the adrenal glands. When you are stressed your levels of Potassium and Vitamin B plummet … so keep munching on those sunflower seeds.

3. Brown Rice – can help you deal with stress by lifting your mood as it helps trigger the release of the body’s feel good hormones – serotonin. It can also give you a burst of energy when you’re ready to fall in a heap from exhaustion.

4. Cabbage – an excellent stress-busting source due to its high Antioxidant content. Antioxidants fight the damaging effects of free radicals in your body which are released in response to stress.

5. Almonds – rich in Magnesium which when your levels are low, can be associated with nervous tension, anxiety, irritability and insomnia. (A good tip is to soak them overnight for easy digestion).

6. Berries – my favourite! Blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are rich in Manganese and Vitamin C. Insufficient Vitamin C can weaken your immune system and make you feel stressed and run down.

7. Sesame Seeds – Very high in Zinc which is brilliant as the need for zinc increases when you’re feeling stressed.

8. Cucumbers – Does the saying “cool as a cucumber” sound familiar? This is quite literally true because it helps cool the blood and the liver. When the liver is properly nourished and not overheated, it can help you to beat stress.

9. Garlic – well known for helping treat colds and flu, garlic contains a detoxifying chemical called Allicin which helps rid your body of toxins. So when you rid the amount of toxins circulating throughout your system, your body will feel less stressed and so will you!

and finally lucky last …

10. Avocados – contain a high content of Iron and Copper which aid in the regeneration of red blood cells and the prevention of anaemia – one very common cause of fatigue and the inability to cope effectively with stress.

So the next time you’re feeling stressed (if you’re working shift work then that’s pretty much all of the time), remember to take care of your adrenal glands by grabbing yourself a handful of stress reduction super foods.

You’ll thank that piece of celery when you start to feel a lot less frazzled!!

Fatigue vs Stress – How a Close Encounter With a Snake Made Me Choose Fatigue!

Fatigue vs Stress. If you were faced with either of these scenarios, which one would you prefer to endure?

Now as a shift worker who has had to battle with fatigue for many years, I would haven chosen the latter. But after a midnight hunt for my cat, which lead to a close encounter with a snake – I think I’d rather be fatigued.

You see, last night our cat ‘Misty’ stayed outside a little later than usual. In fact it was fast approaching midnight and she still had not come inside for her dinner. Now I’m not one to get too worried because she always does comes inside – eventually. But last night was a little different. She didn’t come in when we called her, and about 1/2 hour later we heard an almighty cat fight.

After rushing outside to see what all the commotion was about – there were no sign of any cats – nor any balls of fluff.
And over the next few hours I proceeded to head out into the garden, getting down on my hands and knees under the bushes, in search of Misty. As time marched on and the clock neared 1am, my eyes were getting heavy, my brain fuzzy and my body ached from tiredness. And even though I was feeling incredibly fatigued, I soldiered on in my search.
So with my trusty torch in hand, I continued to call her by name in the hope that she would come inside.


What I wasn’t expecting however, was a close encounter with a different type of animal – a 2 metre long snake that didn’t look particularly happy to see me either.
So after my stress hormones kicked in (aka ‘adrenaline’), which caused my heart to beat faster, my blood pressure to rise, and my muscles to tense up – my body became paralyzed from fear!
You see stress is linked to our most basic human response – to ‘flight’ or ‘fight’. This instinct actually goes back millions of years when our ‘hunter and gatherer’ ancestors were faced with physically threatening situations.
Even though this snake appeared “perfectly harmless” – I certainly didn’t want to hang around to find out.
So as I carefully and slowly retreated backwards away from the snake, I turned and ran back onto the front deck and into the ‘safety’ of my house. Fortunately in that same moment, Misty decided it was time to come home and she too, suddenly appeared on the front steps.
So where am I going with this story?
Well as you would already know, just working shift work is stressful because getting up in the dark is certainly not normal for any human being.
But it’s important to realise that stress in general, is in fact a normal part of life. It’s only when you are exposed to too much stress, for extended periods of time, that your health will begin to suffer.
(So fortunately for me, my encounter with a snake was somewhat brief so I shouldn’t suffer from any permanent damage …)
And the good news is that stress itself, can actually be managed. While we can’t always control the causes of our stress, we can certainly be responsible for how we deal with them.
A few tips to help you deal with stress include:
1. Remembering to breathe! When we get stressed we tend to forget to breathe properly, and instead take fast, shallow breaths which makes our heart beat faster and oxygen levels fall. To combat this, take three deep breathes and then carry on.
2. Just saying the word ‘calm’ – over and over in your head when you’re feeling stressed, can acually help you to feel calm.
3. Take more exercise – Exercise releases the body’s natural painkillers – endorphins, which gives you a wonderful high and alleviates pent-up frustration and anxiety. Just 20 minutes three times a week will not only keep you fit, but stop you feeling tired and stressed out.
4. Get more organised – One of the main causes of stress is disorganisation. Sort your life out and you will begin to notice your stress levels drop dramatically.
So the next time you’re faced with a stressful situation – whether it’s a disgruntled customer, a fast approaching deadline, or just knowing that you have to get up at 3am to go to work the next day – just stay calm and you will be able to cope with whatever is thrown your way!

P.S – Oh, and keep any eye out for those snakes!

Are You Experiencing Stress? Then It Might Be Time To Change Your Light Bulb!

If you’re experiencing shift work stress then you’re not alone. Just getting up at 2am is putting unwanted stress on your body because quite frankly – we’re not nocturnal animals that come to life and thrive in the dark!
So what is stress?

Stress comes in various forms but essentially when we feel stressed we feel totally overwhelmed – as if we have little control over what is happening or what is about to happen to us. Stress makes us focus on bad outcomes and arouses a sense of fear inside us.

If we’re at work and we’re under severe stress, we can sometimes feel like we’re locked into an unbearable situation.

As shift workers we’re more than likely to already be feeling fatigued and exhausted so when you add stress into the equation – it can certainly become a dangerous combination.

But the good news is that this feeling of helplessness is actually a learned behaviour which means that we can quite simply retrain ourselves to ‘unlearn’ this behaviour.

You see, the key to eliminating stress in your life is to acquire the same skills used by people who do not become stressed even though they may be facing some very trying and extremely difficult situations.

Now I’m sure you know people like this. They just appear unflappable – as if nothing fazes them. (Hmm … I wonder what drugs they’re on? … I’m only kidding!)

You see all that they are doing differently is changing the way that they think. They are simply just changing the light bulb that is going off in their head.

This is really important because essentially it is your thinking that is causing you to become stressed.

Now when you’re at work and you become highly stressed, your thinking becomes irrational. You assign bad outcomes to events and arouse a fear response within you. You also become highly emotional, your sleeping patterns are disturbed and you can feel totally exhausted.

So to beat stress you simply need to retrain your thinking and get rid of all of those negative thoughts. Learn how to think more calming and positive thoughts instead of brooding on negative outcomes, and when you do – you will be well on your way to banishing your stress forever!

P.S – So, do you have a ‘Mr or Mrs Calm’ that works in your workplace? You might want to hang around them a little bit … you never know, some of their calming aura might just rub off onto you!

Feeling Stressed? Why You Should Never Drink a Cup of Coffee.

Friday mornings at an airport can be chaos. It’s the start of the weekend, lots of people returning home or just wanting to get away for a mini-escape, and this is exactly how it was yesterday. All flights to all destinations were full, the check-in queues were massive, and lots of people were missing flights because of a new airport motorway that had just opened up that morning.
As you can imagine there were lots of frustrated, disgruntled and unhappy passengers.
Now after ‘Disgruntled Passenger Number 6″ – I was starting to feel a tad stressed and a bit tired of being the receiver of such aggression. There are days when I kind of feel like I’m just a highly paid punching bag (well, I don’t know about the “highly paid” bit). Anyway, by mid morning most of us felt like we desperately needed a good cup of coffee to help alleviate the stress.
Well that was what I thought until yesterday. You see I had just finished reading an article from Yuri Elkaim’s Eating For Energy book the night before, highlighting the negative effects that coffee has on the body if you are stressed.
Some of these included the following:
* Coffee actually intensifies stress causing an average 40% increase in adrenaline. This results in increased blood pressure, heart rate, perspiration, nervousness, and irratibility.
* Coffee increases the secretion of stomach acid by 400%, contributing to gastritis and peptic ulcers.
* According to a British Medical Journal, coffee drinkers have a 50% higher risk of heart attack.
* Coffee causes a significant loss of nutrients – magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins.
* Coffee is a major source of cadmium which is a heavy metal that has been linked to cancer and immune suppression.
Now if you’re a woman – the facts are even scarier.
* Coffee is linked to ovarian cancer, bladder, and kidney cancers.
* According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, coffee increases the risk of miscarriage and can double the rate with just 1 cup per day!
* Coffee reduces fertility. More than 1 cup per day makes a woman half as likely to conceive (American Journal of Epidemiology).
So next time you’re feeling stressed – don’t go for a latte, 1/2 cap, flat white, mocha, full strength Expresso or whatever – because you may as well stick your hand in a power point!
Instead, reach for a Green Tea which contains the natural mood enhancer Theanine, which has been shown to reduce mental and physical stress and promote a feeling of relaxation.
Ahhh … now that’s the kinda thing that I’m looking for. Perhaps we should give out complimentary cups of Green Tea to passengers as they arrive at the airport?

In Need Of A Mental Holiday?

Shift work is stressful – no question.

So if you’re wanting to reduce those stress levels but it’s a while before your next holiday, then why not revert to Plan B and take a ‘mental holiday’ instead?

Find a special place in your house that is void of distractions. Turn off the TV and unplug the phone. Sit down in a comfy chair or lie on the couch and close your eyes.

Now take the next five minutes to visualize your perfect vacation. Imagine a getaway that brings you limitless serenity and calm, a place such as a beach, a forest, or a river. Once you’ve thought of your special place, take notice of what it is about this environment that makes it calm and relaxing.

* Is it the endless sound of waves washing on the shore? Is it the wind rustling through the trees?.

* Is is the warmth of the sun on your shoulders or of the sand beneath your feet?.

* Are you lying in a hammock or sitting under a tree? Are you reading a book, watching a sunset, or just doing nothing?

Carry this calming imagery with you for the next 10 minutes or so and then gradually open your eyes … it may not be a real holiday but a “mini mental holiday” can certainly be the next best thing!