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For Shiftworkers: How to Feel Good and Take Care of Yourself

Shift work can play havoc on our system and overall health with the long hours it entails.

Here’s a few tips on how we all can be a healthier version of ourselves while doing shift work!

Areas such as diet, sleep and social life all contribute to making life while working shift work more manageable. Maybe you’ll take something from this article to improve your health?

Eating Right

When it comes to food and eating, little and often is what is most recommended. By doing this your blood sugar levels should stay normal. If your diet is erratic and inconsistent, this may lead to low blood sugar levels which may cause you to go for unhealthy food choices.

Top Tips: Be prepared and organised, batch-cooking and freezing portions for other meals save time, money and are much better for our health. Snacks which are healthy and tasty include hummus on whole grain crackers or vegetable crudites, fruit chopped into a salad topped with yogurt and mixed seeds, or overnight oats which is so tasty for any time of the day. These snacks are great when you can feel hunger pangs!

Never forget that a lot of hunger can be dehydration. If you are eating sufficiently and feeling hungry, try a glass of water. Water is known to hydrate us and to help with hunger pangs and you are less likely to overeat if you are sufficiently hydrated. Also, sufficient hydration is a must to ensure your spine and back are less susceptible to injury.

Take Your Breaks

Always take your breaks. We all need a rest at some point of our working day. Nobody will commend you for not taking your breaks or coming back early from them. Nurses and other healthcare professionals are known to do this. Running on empty is no good for anyone. Also, we should all prioritise our work carefully so that we can get a break. Always plan ahead!

Exercise

We all need some form of exercise to stay healthy. Exercise benefits both our physical and mental health. With so many benefits, It’s long been called nature’s antidepressant as well as keeping your heart and lungs healthy. Don't aim too high to begin with, start with something small and build on it. Even building up your daily steps, taking a brisk walk or going to a class can help. There are even apps like “Couch to 5k” and home workout videos on Youtube that can help! Remember to always plan! If you feel stuck for exercising, try doing some on your days off. Even try it in the morning so you’ve the rest of the day to do what you like.

Check Your Payslip

Ensure that you are getting paid properly. Check out the amount of tax you’re paying. See that you’re getting paid correctly and not over-taxed, in particular, emergency tax. Financial stressors like this can build up over time cause worry, in turn affecting our mental health. There’s an easy to use website called Salary After Tax which can help you see where your money is going before it gets into your pocket or bank account.

Social Life
Make time for your family and friends. We all need a social life. Humans are social beings. It could be something small like a film, going for a coffee with a friend, some sport together, a pub quiz or going out for a nice meal. Chatting and having fun or some downtime with people you know raises endorphins leading us to feel much better after.

Sleep
Sometimes sleeping after night duty or a very stressful day can make it hard to wind down and sleep. We all need approximately 8 hours of sleep to function correctly the next day. Less than 8 hours sleep can lead to more spinal and back injuries. Also, there’s little things like putting lavender oil on your bed sheets or in an oil burner, some relaxing tea with either valerian root or chamomile which are supposed to induce sleep. A darkened room is helpful too. There’s relaxation music and guided meditation available on YouTube. Also, if you like podcasts, there’s some great ones to help you nod off to sleep. These remedies will have you falling asleep much quicker and for longer.

Posted on 08 April 2019 by Amy Scott
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