Working long hours and being away from home comes with its challenges for many people. Challenges we understand very well in our family with Mr T + T working away for two weeks out of three. While everyone’s at home taking care of each other one of the most valued members of our family is off on a mine site with his coworkers who are also busy getting by and surviving. At home family members are worrying if their partner, son or parent is eating, sleeping or coping ok.
Sally from health insurance comparison is our guest here to provide us with some welcome information on how our loved ones can stay healthy, both physically and mentally, while working long hours.
FIFO Workers – staying healthy while working long hours
Working long hours away from home can have a detrimental effect on both physical and mental health for FIFO workers. Lengthy shift work can make it difficult to eat healthy and exercise regularly, for example. Here, we look at some of the biggest health-related challenges that are faced by the average FIFO worker and the kind of steps that you can take to maintain good physical and mental health while you are on-site.
Physical Health Tips
Nutrition can frequently be neglected by FIFO workers, especially when fatigue is a major issue. It’s often much easier to eat from the camp menu, and this can sometimes be the only real option if fresh foods are difficult or impossible to come by. A good breakfast will help to set you up for the day ahead and is especially important when you’re on a long shift and won’t be eating another substantial meal until some time later. Try to make sure that any snacks you eat in between meals are as healthy as possible, rather than settling for convenient high-fat, high sugar options that may be readily available.
If you’re worried about the quality of food available on-site, you may want to think about bringing some supplies as part of your luggage allowance. Things like nuts, seeds and nutritional supplements can see you through until you’re back at home and have more opportunities to eat well.
Exercise may be the last thing on your mind after another heavy day but it can make a lot of difference for both physical and mental health. You don’t necessarily have to go to the gym; a few laps in the pool or a kickabout with some of your colleagues are good options too. If nothing else, doing blocks of stretching will help to keep you more flexible and active on days when you don’t feel up to anything more strenuous, and can be more important that you might think for emotional wellbeing too.
Mental Health Tips
Being away from home can lead to isolation, and depression. Job-related stress and a lack of employer support to deal with this can sometimes result in binge drinking and/or recreational drug use as a way to cope with these feelings. This can create a vicious circle in which your mental health gets worse.
Take some time every day to focus on yourself and your wellbeing. Even half an hour of exercise or stress-busting activities such as deep breathing, meditation and mindfulness can go a long way towards improving your mental health and helping you to deal with the stresses of the FIFO lifestyle.
Getting as much sleep as you can is a must to prepare for gruelling shift work. You’re never going to work to the best of your ability if you’re getting up at 4 am after getting little to no sleep the night before, and this can become more likely if your mental health and wellbeing is suffering while you’re on-site. The nature of FIFO work can make it difficult to get into a regular sleeping pattern but exercise, good nutrition and sticking to a moderate alcohol intake can all aid better sleep.
If you’re struggling with the FIFO lifestyle, don’t be afraid to talk things over with your partner and other people that you trust. Feeling overwhelmed, stressed and/or depressed is not a sign of weakness, and voicing your worries shows strength to overcome these type of feelings. Bottling things up can be very detrimental for your well being, and it may be that those close to you have no idea how you’re really feeling. Getting things out in the open means that you can start to get more support from family and friends to help you through. Depending on your situation, you may find it useful to speak to your employer too or to seek professional support.
Can Health Insurance Help?
If you think you could benefit from some mental health support as a FIFO worker, you may want to think about having health insurance Extras cover with psychology benefits. This may be something that you can then access when you are not on-site to help you to deal with the FIFO situation more effectively.
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