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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

15 Tips to Manage Shift Work and Your Quality of Life

15 Tips to Manage Shift Work and Your Quality of Life

It’s no secret that shift work schedules can take a toll on your physical well-being, emotional state, and your mental health. In industries that require 24-hour-services or work weeks that operate around 12-hour shift rotations, there can still be some resistance when bouncing from week after week[1].

Over time, the hobbies you once loved may get pushed to the side and burnouts may creep in, resulting in emotions of disconnect, isolation, and possibly unfulfillment.

Changing your lifestyle is challenging but achievable. Like most of the other things in life, it’s the act of balance that genuinely affects the quality of your life.

Here are 15 tips to enhance your quality of life when shift work may be weighing you down.

1. Discover What’s Working for You

First, ask yourself which parts of your routine are already working for you.

Recently, I have come to realize that I’m much more of a morning person than I am a night owl. I write better, my focus is clear, and I feel as if I’m working at my optimal level. Discovering this was a game-changer and has helped me grasp an understanding of how to show up physically and mentally at work.

A good starting place is taking notice of the small things that work and don’t work for you:

  • Does coffee actually make me crash when I start my shift at 11 p.m.?
  • How cluttered is my mind when I go to sleep after work versus running some of my errands first?
  • I’m missing another family function; how am I feeling at work and do I always feel this way?

Noticing these small details can enhance the overall quality of your life when you have a job that relies on shift work.

2. Take a Mental Health Day

Burnouts happen to the best of us, and even the most successful people face them.

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Everyone goes through a period of complete mental and physical exhaustion, but there are always signs leading up to a burn out, including lack of motivation, decreased satisfaction, and health problems. Taking a mental health day can help.

Shift work can be a stressful thing, especially when working hours that cause problems with your circadian rhythms, and giving your mind the relaxation and self-care that it deserves will help you make clear and healthier decisions.

3. Spend Minimal Time on Social Media

When you’re working odd hours of the day, it may be difficult to stray away from social media – the digital and interactive platforms that keep you connected with the “outside” world.

Engaging in social media is also an act of balance, and indulging in ample amounts of blue light and diving into the rabbit hole of scrolling will not only exhaust you mentally but may leave you feeling disconnected from everyone.

The digital world will always be there. Don’t forget to make time to connect with the real world, too.

4. Invest in an Eye Pillow

In reality, it’s not the morning caffeine boost that gets your day going – it’s the sleep you received the night before. Insufficient sleep can leave you feeling unfocused and affects the way you get your day started[2].

The Risks of Shift Work – Blue Block Glasses

    Eye pillows are great for those who might have sleep problems, as the essential oils infused in the silky fabric can help alleviate tension, stress, and help you achieve quality sleep.

    5. Schedule “Me” Time Every Day

    As a number, 24 hours may seem large. However, add in your 8-hour work day, everyday tasks, commuting, and other life obligations, and it might be hard to squeeze in an hour just for yourself.

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    Spending one hour by yourself and with yourself can shift the overall quality of your life. Whether it be a designating time to indulge in a book, bake a dish, free-write, or play an instrument, this is a time for you to spend it selfishly.

    6. Create Goals

    The key here is to create goals, not a laundry list of things to do.

    Curate a list of local events you want to attend on the weekend or make it a goal to run a 5K. Consider your goals to be things that ignite those emotions of excitement, adventure, and fun. This can help you overcome the dullness or overwhelm of shift work.

    7. Take a Moment to Slow Down

    Shift-work can drain you physically, which means you must listen to your body. Oftentimes, we get lost when we’re on the go. We take our meals, our coffees, and even important conversations while we’re constantly up and running. Take some time to breathe and slow down.

    8. Set Expectations With Your Employer

    It’s about communicating with your employer and setting those expectations you can realistically meet. Sometimes shift workers go the extra mile and stay behind after work, or they end up picking up extra shifts when needed.

    Realistically, are you going the extra mile, or are your employers getting too dependent? If it’s the latter, it’s time to draw some boundary lines.

    If you have a family and you need to be home at a certain time, ask your employer to honor it. If there’s a yoga class you’ve been committed to on a weekly basis that keeps you grounded and recharged, stay committed to it.

    Setting those expectations can help bring control back into your life in the long term.

    9. Create a Routine

    Establishing a set routine can alleviate unnecessary stress, even if you’re sleeping during the day or working early morning shifts. After a long day at work, the last thing you probably would want to be doing is stressing over what daily tasks need to be completed.

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    Set a designated day for laundry, grocery shopping, and other tasks that need to get done on a weekly basis.

    10. Meal Prep for the Week

    Eating healthy is one crucial factor that affects your quality of life, but taking control of what goes into your body gives you that conscious awareness of what you are really consuming.

    It’s no secret that meal prepping is no easy task, especially when shift work has you exhausted. Instead, think of the benefits it could provide – freeing up mental capacity for the week, building a healthy and accountability relationship with yourself, and saving you money[3].

    11. Do Something Creative

    Even for those who believe they don’t have a creative bone in their body, every single person in the world has a imagination unique to themselves.

    Creativity does not always have to come in the form of art, but also in the mess of baking or the rhythm when you dance.

    12. Surround Yourself With Nature

    When was the last time you stood barefoot on a damp patch of grass after the morning rain or ran your fingers through the soft grains of sand at the beach?

    When was the last time you closed your eyes and listened to the birds chirp or the leaves rustle against the wind?

    There’s another world outside of the physical world we live in when we’re at work, and surrounding yourself with nature reminds you of that.

    13. Reflect

    Although shift work can have you bouncing back and forth during odd hours of the day, there’s that opportunity to sit and reflect during these times.

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    If you work at night, you have the chance to sit and reflect when the world is sleeping, which can actually be the quietest time to clear your mind.

    14. Get Active

    Physical activity is more vital than some people give it credit. Spending a portion of your day moving your body can help get those endorphins going and have you feeling ready to conquer the day or release the tension in your body.

    15. Make Time for the People You Love

    With shift work, there may be times that you are missing out on many of life’s events that are going on in your inner circle – dinner parties, happy hours, or hiking trips.

    The positive thing about working unconventional hours is that it gives you the time to reflect on the handful of people who are the most important to you and how you want to spend your time with them.

    Maybe it’s not about going to dinner parties with your friends from high school that brings you happiness, but meeting up with your gym buddy for a quick run instead. Use your time the way you want and with the people you want to spend it with.

    Final Thoughts

    Although shift work can be emotionally and physically draining, use it as a learning opportunity to get to know yourself. When was the last time you got to dive deep to get to know the person you are and who you have become?

    Not everything has to be goal-oriented, and sometimes regaining the quality of your life means exploring the little things.

    More on Dealing With Shift Work

    Featured photo credit: Luis Melendez via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    Akina Chargualaf

    Akina Chargualaf is an entrepreneur, writer, and the content creator of travel and personal development blog Finding Fifth.

    How to Get Your Life Back on Track When Things Are out of Control How to Stop Dwelling on the Past and Move on for Good Why It’s Never Too Late to Change Your Life and Live Differently How to Not Be Sad When It Feels Like Everything Is Going Wrong 15 Tips to Manage Shift Work and Your Quality of Life

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    Last Updated on April 30, 2021

    How to Stay Awake at Work Without Caffeine

    How to Stay Awake at Work Without Caffeine

    Coffee is a way of life for many employees. Caffeine gives them the boost they need to help them get through the day. But as we know, like sugar highs, eventually the caffeine boosts wear off. The million-dollar question at the office for many people should be googling is, “how to stay awake at work without caffeine?”

    According to Gallup, a staggering 85% of workers are “not engaged” at work.[1] That means the majority of the workforce around the world view their work negatively or are doing the minimum required to keep their jobs. As a result, it should come as no surprise that people are getting tired at the office.

    Perhaps, you’re like one of my clients. Every morning he starts off his day like many people all over the world. He heads into the kitchen, pops in a capsule in his Nespresso machine, and then sits in front of the TV while sipping his gourmet coffee. Then, throughout the day, he’ll have one or two more cups, especially if the Sandman is visiting.

    According to The National Safety Council, 43% of workers are sleep-deprived so it’s not uncommon to see people with a cup of joe on their desk.[2] Add in the meetings that seem to drag on and the hours we spend in front of a computer screen and the battle for our focus is very real.

    Caffeine has become the drug of choice for millions. People use coffee to jolt themselves back into focus. Starbucks has even made coffee hip and cool, not to mention pricey. But that doesn’t mean it’s good for us. Thankfully, there are better, healthier ways to stay awake.

    Here are some tips on how to stay awake at work without coffee.

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    1. H2O

    We all know the importance of drinking water. What most people don’t realize is the effect it can have on our focus and productivity. If you’ve ever been on a 6-hour plane ride or longer, upon landing, your body feels heavy. The reason is dehydration. The adrenaline from the excitement of heading to Disneyland with our family can mask our lethargy for only so long. Once it wears off, our body will feel it.

    The same thing happens at the office. The more dehydrated our body is the worse its functions. Headaches are largely linked to dehydration. Hydrating our body has numerous health benefits that are relatively unseen including the elimination of toxins from our bloodstream, improved digestion, lubrication of our joints and eyes, and increased concentration.

    Just how much water should we be drinking? According to The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, women should drink about 2.7 liters a day, while men should drink about 3.7 liters.[3]

    Despite knowing we should drink more water, many people don’t. Why is that? Simply put—boredom. It’s lacking in taste. Coca-Cola, Mountain Dew, or Monster Energy are what people turn to instead. It doesn’t hurt that they have caffeine in them either, giving them a double shot of energy in the form of sugar and caffeine.

    How do we combat this? Easy, by making water “cool.” Liven up your water by adding ice cubes made out of 100% fruit juice or add wedges of fruits to your water infusing them with a hint of your favorite flavors.

    Suggestion: Download an app or set up alarms to notify you throughout the day to drink water. Your body will thank you.

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    2. Good Night’s Sleep

    Like water, this should go without saying. It should, but with 43% of workers being sleep-deprived, it needs to be said, over and over again. Too many people shortchange their sleep because of work or fun.

    For most people, there’s just not enough time in the day to do everything they want to. Burning the midnight oil before a big presentation or project is understandable but long-term, our body and performance will suffer if we push our body too hard.

    A few years ago, the WSJ coined the term “sleepless elite,” referring to a small group of people that only need a short amount of sleep every night. Scientists estimate they make up only about 1% of the population.[4] You might be one of them. Only you know how effective you can be on a few hours of sleep. I’m not one of them, and chances are likely you aren’t either. I’ve only ever met one person who fit the bill, but the impact it is having on their body is still unknown.

    We are all unique. Each of our bodies functions slightly differently, but for most people, seven to eight hours a day is needed for optimum performance. But it’s not just about quantity but also quality, which is why it’s important to have a 30-minute cool-down before getting into bed.

    Turn off all screens. If possible, switch to yellow light. If not, simply turn down the lights. Turn off notifications on your phone. Do everything you can to make your environment conducive to sleep. Finally, reading a chapter or two in a good book to make yourself sleepy is a great way to get ready for bed. Doing these simple things will dramatically improve the quality of your sleep.

    Suggestion: Create a daily cool-down routine to ensure the quality of your sleep.

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    3. 80% Rule

    In Japan, there’s an expression, “8 bun me,” which refers to eating until you’re 80% full. It’s actually a stroke of genius, especially for those looking to get more done at work. Knowing how to stay awake at work without caffeine is a real challenge for many people, but adjusting your diet is a great place to start.

    When I first moved to Japan, I often found meals to be much smaller than those in America. I’m not going to lie, it bugged me at first. I found myself still hungry after lunch. Over time though, my body adjusted.

    The problem with a full stomach is that it pulls blood away from our brain, which is why many people feel sleepy after lunch. Not feeling full after lunch will allow you to operate at a higher level at the office.

    Most of us have been taught to have a light breakfast, a more robust lunch, and a big meal for dinner. Ironically, it should be the other way around. The problem is a big meal for dinner is something most people don’t want to change. Therefore, we should go to work on the other two meals.

    For many people in the West, breakfast consists of a banana, cereal, or peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So, by the time lunch rolls around, it’s not surprising they’re hungry. The large lunch leads them to be sleepy in the afternoon. Instead, consider having a more substantial breakfast that will see you through the day. That way, lunchtime can be nothing more than a snack, allowing your mind to stay sharp until you finish up for the day.

    Suggestion: A few small changes in your diet can lead to improved productivity at the office.

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    4. Breathing

    Breathing is another undervalued technique to boosting our performance. Patrick McKeown’s The Oxygen Advantage, James Nestor’s Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, and Wim Hof’s The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential all delve into the power of breathing and oxygen.

    Brendon Burchard, the bestselling author of Life’s Golden Ticket: A Story About Second Chances and the creator of High-Performance Academy, says, “I don’t hope to have energy. I generate energy.” He does this through a series of breathing and physical exercises and it’s remarkable how effective these are in helping us boost performance.

    Suggestion: Take the time to learn how to breathe as it can an effective way to boost energy or relax your body.

    5. Reward Your Body

    Another long-term solution to help us stay awake at work is by rewarding our bodies. Our bodies work hard for us. The daily grind can take its toll on our bodies over time, which is why it’s critical to reward our bodies.

    Massages are an excellent way to reduce pain and muscle soreness while improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure. Nice warm baths can also achieve similar results. Massages and baths help battle insomnia, reduce injuries and anxiety, help with joint pain, and much more.[5][6]

    Suggestion: Schedule regular massages into your month.

    Bottom Line

    Learning how to stay awake at work is a real challenge for millions of people the world over. Many turn to caffeine in the form of coffee to give them the boost they need, but it’s a short-term solution for a long-term problem. Instead, we should focus on changing a few of our daily habits. The results will astound you and with any luck, you’ll be able to kiss the caffeine habit goodbye.

    More Tips on How to Stay Awake at Work

    Featured photo credit: Ilya Pavlov via unsplash.com

    Reference

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