Who Is ‘The Healthy Shift Worker’?

A headshot of Audra Starkey, the Healthy Shiftworker, who is the authof of Too Tired to Cook, host of the Healthy Shift Worker club and presenter of Shift Worker Workplace Wellness Seminars.

Hi Everyone,

I’ve noticed quite a few new followers join the page over the last few weeks so I thought I’d step out from behind the ‘back office’ of this website, and introduce myself, along with sharing a little about me and why I’ve created The Healthy Shift Worker.  One of my goals for 2016 was also to “humanize” this site, and by that I mean let people know that yes, there is a ‘real person’ behind this website, who comes with her own story as to why she established this blog, way back on the 8th of February 2009, when I wrote my first blog post.

My name is Audra, and I’m a mad traveler, a huge fan of tennis (or should I say a fan of Roger Federer), a lover of the natural environment and all furry critters.  I love bush walking, yoga, “brunching” with my girlfriends, and immersing my toes in the sand with longs walk along with beach.  Fortunately this is pretty easy to do as I live in sunny Queensland Australia, with my husband and furry child – ‘Misty’ the cat.  I’ve also been incredibly fortunate to have visited 22 countries throughout my 44 years on this earth, however my longing to travel and visit new places has been placed on hold the last 18 months or so, as I made the transition from working full-time, to becoming a full-time University student.

After 21 years of working in the aviation industry, in October 2014 I decided to take a leap of faith and accept a voluntary redundancy from Qantas, Australia’s largest airline, to pursue my interest in nutrition, with a special focus on shift work health.  I think you can all agree when we work shift work, our diet is often the first thing to fall apart, which over the long-term, can have serious consequences on our health.  So I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Health Science majoring in Nutritional Medicine at Endeavour College of Natural Health in Brisbane, and am about to embark in my final year of this degree.

I’m also writing a book (specifically for shift workers) which is taking me way longer than I thought, but that’s OK, because I want to write something that is not only filled with great content, but is enjoyable to read too.

My special interest in shift work health stemmed from my own personal struggles of working shift work for nearly two decades.  Like anyone who has ever worked shift work before, you can appreciate just how hard it is on our physical, mental and emotional well-being.

But whilst I may be studying nutritional medicine, this page and blog is not all about nutrition.

I have a very holistic view on health, in particular when it comes to those who work through the night, and get up at ridiculous times of the day because sleep-deprivation can be the catalyst behind a lot of our struggles – and not just on the food that we eat.

Do I believe nutrition is important?  Absolutely.  In fact it’s even more important when working 24/7.

Do I believe it’s the answer to all of our shift working woes?  Absolutely not.

As a population, we are chronically sleep-deprived, and with that comes serious consequences.

Sleep deprivation affects our:

  • nutritional intake, digestion and absorption of foods
  • it disrupts our hormones
  • it impairs our cognitive function
  • it weakens our immune system
  • it affects our mood
  • it makes us prone to accidents
  • it makes us feel way too tired to get off the couch and exercise, and
  • it certainly plays havoc on our family and social life – amongst many other things.

Not the rosiest of pictures, but it’s the harsh reality of the situation, and comes with the territory when working 24/7.

However in the next couple of days, you’re going to see the beginnings of a project I’ve been working on over the last few months, because I want to engage with you more, as opposed to just writing on my Facebook page, or via this blog.  Quite simply, I want to help you as much as I can, and let you know that you’re not alone in this incredibly tough way of life that we’ve come to know as ‘shift work’.   In order for me to do this, I’ve had to enlist the help of others, whom you will be hearing from very soon.

So ‘welcome’ to all the newbies who have recently joined my page, and a big “hello” to all of my loyal followers who have been with me over the long term and have stuck with me through all my posts over the years – both the good and bad!

Look forward to “speaking” with you soon,

Big shift working hugs,

Audra x


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