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4 Things You Should Know About Shift Work

4 Things You Should Know About Shift Work

With summer nearly at a close, many 20-something’s will find themselves either returning to class or will be watching their post-graduation festivities come to an end. In either case, a large portion of them will find themselves starting or searching for employment. With the unprecedentedly cluttered job market, many will find themselves accepting employment as shift-workers.

For full-time employees, these jobs, typically span eight hour periods, five days a week. Though some are lucky enough to land standard working hours (9 a.m.-5 p.m.), some others will be forced to compromise for much less convenient blocks of time. For those who must weather the storm of shift work, here are 4 things that may help you to mentally prepare for the life adjustment.

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1. Your sleep cycle will be erratic.

Unfortunately, with the way that many of these shift jobs are set-up, there’s never any actual guarantee that your schedule will remain the same. Sure, there are ways to attempt to enforce a set schedule, however in the interest of making as much capital as possible – you’d be doing yourself a disservice by limiting your availability. In these types of jobs, many employers are looking for people who can work whenever needed. Open availability ensures that you will, for the most part, receive the maximum amount of hours each week. Because these jobs are primarily “paid by the hour,” open availability will be the most beneficial for your check.

Though you can maximize your profit by being the aforementioned, ideal candidate, this also means that your day-to-day schedule could change weekly. Some weeks will be a mixed bag while others may be more consistent. The point to remember here is that there is no guarantee of a set structure. Because of this, your free-time and your sleep period will be contingent on the requirements of the job, and will necessitate constant adjustments.

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2. Your social life will be directly affected.

The free-wheeling or otherwise spontaneous nature of your “hangouts” will be limited. Assuming that you hold a full-time position in a shift job, your social life may dramatically change. The truth of the matter is that nobody wants to work the weekends. If you’re starting at the bottom of the shift-worker totem-pole, the chances are that you will be stuck working a solid eight-hour shift on most Fridays and Saturdays.

Sure, it’s possible to avoid this by mandating those days off, but to reiterate, this can affect how much you make each week, and in more drastic cases it can prevent you from being hired at all. Accepting the terms that will most benefit your bank account means your social life will be strictly confined to your days off, or before and after the times that you are scheduled to work.

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3. It can be depressing.

If you were one of those fortunate enough to skate by on minimal income, being suddenly thrust into the real world where finances are now your own concern, can be a bit of a shock. Conforming to the sporadic work life of an hourly job can be a downer. However, it is imperative to maintain the mindset that you are working toward self-reliance. Rather than fall into the pit of depression and self-pity, build a weekly plan for yourself; one that works within the parameters of your work and life schedule.

By governing your week a bit more sternly, you’ll be able to make time each day for the things that truly matter to you. Not only is this important for your mental health, but it will stave off any disheartening emotions, as well as keep you productive, both in and out of the workplace. Remember, it’s important to make time for yourself, as well as your responsibilities.

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4. But, it’s a step in the right direction.

As long as you keep these key points in mind, surviving the disorderly experience of shift work will become easier to cope with. After some assimilation to the nature of this type of workplace, you’ll seamlessly regulate and learn to live a happy and fulfilling life alongside it.

Whether you plan on moving up in the company, or if this is simply a means to survive, rest easy in the fact that it’s a step in the right direction. In many places, stable employment is hard to come by, and a decent salary can be more difficult to find. Dream job or not, you’re a productive member of society, and that is nothing, if not an amazing thing. Stay positive and keep moving forward.

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Antwan Crump

Novelist, blogger, essayist, podcaster.

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Last Updated on October 23, 2018

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

My mother was a great knitter and produced some wonderful garments such as Aran sweaters which were extremely fashionable when I was young. She also knitted while my father drove, which caused great amusement. I often wondered why she did that but I think I know the answer now.

Knitting is good for your mental health, according to some research studies. The Washington Post mentions a 2013 survey of about 3,500 knitters who were asked how they felt after a knitting session. Over 80% of them said they definitely felt happier. It is not a totally female occupation as more and more men take it up to get the same benefits. Harry Styles (One Direction) enjoys knitting. So does Russell Crowe although he does it to help him with anger management!

The Neural Knitwork Project

In Australia, Neural Knitworks was started to encourage people to knit and also become aware of neuroscience and mental health issues. Knit-ins were organized but garments were not the only things created. The knitters produced handmade neurons (1,665 of them!) to make a giant brain. The 2015 project will make more neural knitted networks (neural knitworks) and they will be visible online. You can see some more examples of woolly neurons on the Neural Knitworks Facebook page.

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While people knitted, crocheted and crafted yarn, they listened to experts talking about mental health issues such as addiction, dementia, depression, and how neurons work.

The knitting and neural connection

The human brain has about 80 billion neurons. Learning new skills, social interaction, and physical activity all help to forge neural connections which keep the brain healthy and active. They are creating networks to control movement and make memories. The knitters learn that as they create the woollen neurons, their own neurons are forming new pathways in their brains. Their creations are mimicking the processes in their brains to a certain extent. At the same time, their brains are registering new and interesting information as they learn interesting facts about the brain and how it works. I love the knitworks and networks pun. What a brilliant idea!

More mental health benefits from knitting

Betsan Corkhill is a physiotherapist and has published some results of completed studies on her website, appropriately named Stitchlinks. She conducted some experiments herself and found that knitting was really helpful in reducing panic and anxiety attacks.

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“You are using up an awful lot of brain capacity to perform a coordinated series of movements. The more capacity you take up by being involved in a complex task, the less capacity you have for bad thoughts.”- Betsan Corkhill

Knitters feel happier and in a better mood

Ann Futterman-Collier, Well Being Lab at Northern Arizona University, is very interested in how textile therapy (sewing, knitting, weaving and lace-making) can play an important role in mood repair and in lifting depressive states.

She researched 60 women and divided them into three different groups to do some writing, meditating and work with textiles. She monitored their heartbeat, blood pressure and saliva production. The women in the textiles group had the best results when their mood was assessed afterwards. They were in a better mood and had managed to reduce their negative thoughts better than those in the writing and meditation groups.

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“People who were given the task to make something actually had less of an inflammatory response in the face of a ‘stressor’.” – Dr. Futterman Collier

The dopamine effect on our happiness

Our brains produce a chemical called dopamine. This helps us to feel happy, more motivated, and assists also with focus and concentration. We get a boost of dopamine after sex, food, exercise, sleep, and creative activities.

There are medications to increase dopamine but there are lots of ways we can do it naturally. Textile therapy and crafting are the easiest and cheapest. We can create something and then admire it. In addition, this allows for a little bit of praise and congratulations. Although this is likely not your goal, all these can boost our dopamine and we just feel happier and more fulfilled. These are essential in facing new challenges and coping with disappointment in life.

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“Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, “Oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that.” How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch. Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.” – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.

If you thought knitting and textiles were for old ladies, think again!

Featured photo credit: DSC_0012/Mary-Frances Main via flickr.com

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