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Published on October 3, 2018

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 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.

Over time, the hobbies you once loved may get pushed to the side and burnouts may come creeping in resulting to 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.

Now it’s time to dive in. 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

Ask yourself – “what is working for me?”

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 doesn’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 your overall quality of your life.

2. Take a mental health day off

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 healthday can help.

Shift work can be a stressful thing and giving your mind the relaxation and self-care that it deserves will help you make clearer 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 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. That is vital. A defective sleep can leave you feeling unfocused and overall affects the way you get your day started.

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

5. Designated “me” time every day

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

Spending one hour to 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.

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6. Create goals or things to look forward 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.

7. Take a moment to slow down.

Shift-work can drain you physically, which means you must listen to your body. Often times, we tend to 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. Setting expectations with your employer

It’s about communicating with your employer and setting those expectations you can realistically meet. Sometimes employees 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 so, it’s time to set those expectations.

If you have a family and you need to be home at the 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.

9. Create a routine

Establishing a set routine can alleviate unnecessary stress. 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.

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

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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. Instead, think of the benefits it could provide – freeing up mental capacity for the week, builds a healthy and accountability relationship with yourself, and can end up being cost-effective.

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 to body 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 also 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.

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.

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14. Get active

Physical activity is more vital than some people give credit to. Spending a portion of your day to move 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 important people in your life

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 working 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.

Featured photo credit: Luis Melendez via unsplash.com

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Akina Chargualaf

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

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Published on April 16, 2019

How Self Care Can Help You Live Your Best Life

How Self Care Can Help You Live Your Best Life

When was the last time you did something for yourself?

Whether it was deciding to treat yourself with a little something or travel for some R&R, how often do you practice self-care?

Well, as good as above sounds, there’s a common misconception that many of us have about self-care: that it’s only about indulgence and enjoyment.

However, self-care goes far beyond indulgence. It’s actually about respecting your mind and body, understanding its limits, and being able to take care of every part of yourself, in a holistic way.

And, you really don’t have to go to extreme measures or do anything specific–like meditating or following a plant based diet–in order to practice self-care. You just have to make sure that what you’re doing is in your best interests.

So how can you make that happen?

Below are a few proven methods that will help you become a better version of you. Follow through with these regularly and you’ll be well on your way to living your very best life.

Listen to Yourself

The bulk of self-care is knowing yourself.

This means knowing your body’s limitations, and being in tune with your feelings, emotions and thoughts. So it’s important, then, to know who you are and what you want to do in life, in order to truly say that you know yourself. 

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What is your purpose?

Have you ever thought about this question?

Your purpose doesn’t have to remain the same throughout your life. What you found a purpose in at age 19 would likely be different at age 49.

In your current situation, think about the different roles that you have – as a working professional, a spouse, a partner, a parent, etc.

Do you feel like you are fulfilling your purpose through any of these roles?

All you have to do is ensure that what you’re chasing is meaningful to you; this will bring focus and motivation as you strive to achieve your goals.

If you have your purpose defined, then that’s awesome! You know what drives you and why.

But, if you don’t feel like you have a purpose nailed down, it’s good to start by asking why.

For example, why are you working in your particular job or industry? If the reason is vague or unclear, then your motivational energy will be the same. In which case, you may find yourself not having a direction for where you’re headed in life.

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If you’d like to learn more about finding your purpose, then I recommend you check out this article:

How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

Seek Out Continuous Education

Now, this may seem less common when you think of self-care, but lifelong learning is incredibly useful and an important component of taking care of yourself.

It’s Super Practical

Lifelong learning is extremely practical these days and does not require as much effort as it may have in the past. Long gone are the days when you could only find information on something by visiting a library. In this day of the internet, anything you can imagine is at your fingertips.

You don’t need to physically go to a learning institution to learn. You can watch Youtube videos to learn new skills, take online courses to earn a degree, and scroll through an endless amount of articles, books and journals from reputable news and informative sites.

When you’re constantly pushing yourself to learn and take up new things, your mental health also improves. Research shows that an active and engaged mind is responsible for diminishing age-related memory loss and improves overall cognitive abilities.

Your Confidence Will Skyrocket

You’ll also have improved self worth as it teaches you to step outside of your comfort zone, which will undoubtedly improve your confidence.

You’ll also connect better with others by expanding your knowledge base. Learning exposes you to a multitude of new ideas and perspectives that you may have otherwise never considered. This also increases your adaptability. Whether it’s at work or just wanting to adapt to society, your peers, and loved ones, life long learning prepares you to take on new challenges.

You’ll Be More Desired in the Job Market

Another obvious reason for continuous education, is that your employability will also increase.

With the ever changing economy, and huge influences from technology, social media, science etc., job descriptions today are moving targets. Assignments and roles change so quickly in response to changing business demands, it becomes a Herculean task to keep a job description database current.

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In years past, stability was a characteristic of the world of work. Procedures, information, jobs, and organizations were established and provided continuity. Education was completed in the first 14 to 22 years of one’s life, followed by a long career occasionally punctuated by short-term job training.

Today, however, jobs, companies, and technology are disappearing and being created simultaneously. To remain current and maintain a competitive advantage in the human capital marketplace, an individual is challenged to continually learn.

People return to school at every age to enrich their skills and knowledge for their current positions. Some even prepare themselves for new jobs or career changes, moving them forward into new opportunities and technology.

We can be assured that we will be challenged to continue to learn new tasks and information throughout our lives. Successful careers belong to flexible, curious learners who are prepared for opportunities because they know themselves and where they make their best contribution. As Peter Drucker, the father of modern management stated,

“Knowledge is choice.”

Lifelong learning also increases social awareness and perspective. To genuinely understand and empathize with others, increase social awareness, and foster strong interpersonal relationships, it’s important to seek out new perspectives. Enhancing the skills that positively impact emotional intelligence can bring even greater happiness and success, both personally and at work; and, this is all part of self-care.

Improve Your Habits (Both at Work and at Home)

Now, the last piece of advice I want to introduce to your self-care regimen, is to improve your habits.

Habits define who you are, and are built up over time. You are what you eat is a great example of this. If you make it a habit to eat foods that nourish your body, rather than make your body feel bad, then you will be much healthier overall.

Good Habits Allow You to Reach Your Goals

Since habits dictate your days and nights, such as waking up every morning to get to work before a certain time, or brushing your teeth before bedtime every night, they play a major role in whether we do or do not reach our goals.

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When you form habits that allow you to progress towards your goals, you’re automatically living a purposeful day, everyday.

Habits Make Your Time a Priority

How do you spend your free time? Do you opt to lounge on the couch watching Netflix passively, or do you engage in activities that support your purpose in life?

It’s natural to waste a lot of time during the day, but fostering good habits will make you set a pattern for how you spend your time and give you the choice of what you choose to spend your time on. By improving your habits, you’ll find that you can be a LOT more productive. When you create good habits, you become more efficient with your time and a lot less is wasted.

This in essence creates an overall positive influence on your life, allowing you to treat your mind and body well, which is why improving your habits are so important to self-care.

Your Well Being Comes First

We live in such a fast-paced society, where we are often so caught up in our work, families, maintaining our social lives, our studies and everything in between. It’s an understatement to say that life can get a little overwhelming at times.

If you’ve ever watched the safety video onboard a plane, you’ll know that they always ask for a parent or adult to put on the safety mask first, before tending to the child. This may sound selfish, but the fact is that if you truly want to ensure the child’s safety, then your safety needs to come first so that you can protect and care for the child without complications from your end.

The same goes for self-care. We need to ensure that our well being is priority, so that we can be the best for the people around us.

Listening to yourself, practicing lifelong learning and improving your habits are steps that you can take to ensure you’re constantly in the best state of mind, alongside the indulgence and rest that you reward yourself with.

Featured photo credit: Photo by Raychan on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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