I missed my walk yesterday as I was busy studying than working. As a shift worker, it can be a challenge getting into a routine as days and times change which makes it difficult to plan. The way I try to get around this is to do certain activities before or after shifts. This way I set up a routine. The routine only falls by the wayside when I finish late evenings, but so is life.
When you create routines around times of day or activities it is possible to have a productive, rewarding and successful day.
Tips on setting a routine as a shift worker
A successful day often start the night before.
Remember the days of getting the children’s school lunches ready, their uniforms ready and bags. I know you gave the kids a lot of responsibility too to get themselves ready. Yet some things, I know I got ready the night before.
I do that now too, I get things ready the night before. Nowadays it is putting walking clothes and shoes out ready for me so I don’t need to tiptoe around the bedroom in the morning looking for them.
These days I also like to plan my day, plan my week and time block my calendar with all the days’ activities.
Related post: 7 Simple ways to structure your day for productivity.
Plan and prepare meals.
Prepare breakfast and lunch the night before.
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to creating healthy habits around shift work is meal times. Some people find it hard to prepare and eat a simple breakfast, lunch or main meal because of the strict timelines set or meeting their shift timelines.
Most shift workers prefer ignoring meals or quick snacks. This is not a healthy habit to get into because you need healthy nutrients for energy and to stay alert at work.
To ensure that you have your own home-made healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner prepare it the night before work. The next day will only involve warming it up and taking it.
I like to eat porridge for breakfast with yoghurt and fruit. Each night before I go to shift I prepare the oats and have the yoghurt and fruit in small tubs in a cool bag. This way I have food ready for breakfast at breakfast time.
There are many activities that you can start the day to have a positive and rewarding day. These include meditation, journaling, exercise and reading.
Exercise prior to your shift.
Walk or exercise straight after shift before going home, or before going to work if on a late shift.
Most days I go for a walk in nature and enjoy the beauty of the beach, lake or parks close to where I live or on route home from a shift. I live on the beautiful Central Coast NSW and share photos of my walks on Instagram.
Exercising is important for optimal health. However, for a shift worker, creating healthy habits around shift work can be challenging.
Yes, you may be working late yet disregarding exercise. Exercise can take place in multiple time slots throughout the day.
Naturally, if you love exercising and are concerned about your lifestyle, you will find time to exercise.
The best way to keep fit and stay healthy is by exercising straight after work or before going to work if you will be working late.
I enjoy walking and walk after a shift as it helps to switch off from work and move towards home life. It can be easy to walk over 10,000 steps each day on shift. Yet I still aim for a deliberate walk each day.
Ensure you get sufficient sleep before your day shift and after your night shift.
It is vital to get sufficient sleep. 7-9 hours a day is optimal.
This is one of the most important tips on setting a healthy routine around shift work. Sleep is vital to any individual whether you are a shift worker or not. Without adequate sleep, you will not perform your work as required. Therefore, ensure that you get enough sleep at least 7-9 hours a day is adequate. If you are working night shift and sleep during the day, blackout blinds are fantastic for shutting out the light.
Before I had blackout blinds, and when the children were young, I worked what was known as the graveyard shift 4 nights in a row, weekly. To sleep in a dark room in the day, I’d sleep on the bottom bunk of my children’s bunk bed and hang a blanket over the railings to shut out the daylight.
There’s always a way to shut out the light.
Stay hydrated throughout the day and on shift.
Staying hydrated is essential for optimal body functions. Drinking water not only helps in keeping your body hydrated but keeps you alert and gives your body the fuel it requires to perform your duties. Therefore, if there is no water at your workplace or you have concerns about the water provided at work carry your own water bottle.
Limit your caffeine intake.
Limit your caffeine intake 4-5 hours before your shift finishes. This helps your body wind down for relaxation. Caffeine is good for keeping you awake and alert especially during night shifts or when you feel a little tired.
However, consuming a caffeinated drink a few minutes before going home when you are a shift worker may prevent you from falling asleep. This means that you will not get adequate sleep and you will experience the negative effects due to lack of sufficient sleep.
I enjoy herbal teas and have found drinking herbal teas on night shift refreshing. I have found that I can still sleep after a herbal tea. Ginger and lemon are one of my favourites.
Although when you work shift, it can be hard to have set routines, there are no excuses to not be healthy. It is possible to eat healthily, exercise, set up a walking routine and sleep.
At work, it can be easy to walk 10000 steps but some of the habits you go about setting may take some time to fall in to place. One of the best ways to reach your goals is to form good habits and track them. Get your free 90 day tracker to help you track for success.
Creating a flexible routine requires you to be able to adapt and attach new habits to activities that you do daily.
5 healthy tips to set a routine as a shift worker.
- Prepare meals the night before.
- Exercise before or after the shift on the way there or on the way home.
- Ensure you have 7-9 hours sleep.
- Drink sufficient water.
- Limit caffeine intake.
When you plan your time well everything will fall into place.
Angie blogs about setting goals and mastering habits as well as productivity and living abroad. She started blogging while learning the skills to start an online business. Her goal to work online came about due to wanting to see overseas family and travel around Australia. Her mission is to help others succeed with their goals. Angie often shares tips and tricks while walking the beaches or near the lake on the Central Coast NSW Australia.