Separated by Work

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FIFO Workers: Healthy Eating On-Site

The mining industry was number one on the list, at 78.2%, when Chris Jager from Lifehacker asked, “Are these the ten fattest professions in Australia?”

Source: Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A snapshot study of 35 men at a mine site in WA’s northwest found 83 percent were overweight or obese. Edith Cowan University lecturer, Gemma Quayle, documented the sample groups eating habits, and found they consumed excessive levels of sodium and saturated fat in their diet and had higher rates of obesity than the national average. Furthermore, over 80 percent had an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes or heart disease. Quayle reported the workers ate less fruit, vegetables, dairy and grain foods than recommended while consuming lots of meat and unhealthy discretionary foods.

Source: Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australasian Mine Safety Journal suggests poor health outcomes for on-site workers could be due to, “Work stress, fatigue and having easy access to high fat and high sugar foods when at camp can lead to poor eating habits.” Numerous factors within a mining site environment affect weight gain including shift work, camp food, high alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise. Subsequently, the strain put on the body from these factors become mental stress and can contribute to illness.

Source: Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I understand It is challenging to begin a complete revamp of your eating and lifestyle habits. Therefore, I suggest two areas you can act on today:

Get off junk food

Junk food has no nutritional value, other than satisfying an energy slump or covering up feelings of loneliness. Junk food decays teeth, lowers self-image and impacts heart health. The sugar in junk food does terrible things to the brain, such as impairing memory and learning skills and contributing to anxiety and depression.

Source: Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drink more water.

Staying hydrated is a useful habit to improve your inner and skin health, energy and mood regulation.

A nutritionist explained what happens when you don’t drink enough water. “When dehydrated, your cells become more like sultanas than plump, healthy grapes and consequently that’s how you think and feel. Blood flow to your brain is reduced, which limits the amount of oxygen reaching your brain cells and slows it down. Therefore, you feel tired and lack energy. When our cells are like shrivelled-up sultanas, the process of nutrients flowing in and out of the cells is hugely decreased, and this has ramifications throughout our entire body – our health, our moods, our thoughts, our appearance, our vitality are all below par.”

Source: Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drinking enough water each day is easier when it’s readily on hand, so a must-have is a refillable environmentally-friendly water bottle, that many sites and workplaces provide in abundance.

A 2016 study found that mining employees are open to health-promoting programs and weight management assistance on-site. In my book Separated by Work I share various strategies to help FIFO workers and their families. I believe that with employer and family support, combined with the worker’s eating and exercise plan, the mining profession can be removed from the number one spot of ‘The ten fattest professions in Australian’ list.

Source: Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think about the on-site health of workers? Please share your tips on how you and your family member stay healthy on-site and at home.

 

Posted in: Mindfulness, Resilience, Separated by Work

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Work-life balance reduces stress

Are you rushing from commitment to commitment? Are you searching for more hours in the day? Well, you are not alone.  Health Direct suggest that Australia is behind the rest of the developed world in creating work-life balance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lack of work-life balance will lead to stress because there is an imbalance between your daily demands, responsibilities and commitments and the time, capabilities and energy you have to complete the workload and obligations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What can you do to manage the stress and create a more balanced life? I concur with D J Lee’s article, 6 Tips For Better Work-Life Balance, and have found my success in being aware of the suggested areas for many years. The six tips are:

  1. Let go of perfectionism – strive for excellence instead. Ask yourself, “have I done my best today with the resources I have available to me right now.”
  2. Unplug – Work screen free time into your day, every day.
  3. Exercise and meditate – There are so many recorded benefits to these activities. Move your body and practise deep breathing exercises every day, your muscles and mind will thank you for it.
  4. Limit time-wasting activities and people – Practise the 3 D’s: Do, Delegate, Dump. Stress will reduce, and results will increase.
  5. Change the structure of your life – Revisit your weekly timetable or planner and change a few things around and delegate some tasks to others. You may find that doing things the way you have always done it isn’t working anymore.
  6. Start small. Build from there – Change something every day, not everything all at once.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What work-life balance means and looks like is different for each person and family. Sit down and define it for you first. Once you know that, decide what you want to stop, minimise, keep doing and do more of, then consistently implement new ways of doing and being in your day.

Please share your work-life balance suggestions.

Images: Pixabay

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Have our brains become desensitised?

Source: Pixabay Computer chat

My family heavily relies on technology to feel close and communicate as we are a FIFO family – Separated by Work. I often joke with others that I might get T-Shirts made with the slogan—“Even though we’re miles apart, a computer screen connects our hearts.”

So, I have an intimate understanding of the negatives and positives involved in ‘screen time’.

For many, life demands we use phones, mobile devices, and computers more than we would have a few years ago. We all have instantaneous methods at our fingertips to communicate, which I am personally grateful for, yet there is more to consider when navigating online communication and social media.

Technology itself is not a bad thing, however for people who spend too much time interacting with a screen, the neural pathways in your brain change, and different ones created.

Kaiser Family Foundation reported 8- to 18-year-olds on average spend 11½ hours a day using their technology, and a sample group of adolescents struggled with the ability to recognise another person’s emotions. Dr Gary Small posed the questions, “Have our brains become so desensitised by a 24/7, all-you-can-eat diet of lurid flickering images that we’ve lost all perspective on appropriateness and compassion when another human being apparently suffers a medical emergency? Have we become a society of detached voyeurs?”

Source: Pixabay Social media

Communicating via a screen can decrease empathy and negatively impact concentration and self-esteem, leading people to say things electronically they’d never speak directly to someone.

At times when speaking to others electronically, I have realised by their response the message wasn’t received as intended. When I take the time to discuss it further, they grasp that they had misread what I was saying due to us not being face to face. Has this happened to you too?

From my experience, here are my top eight tips for staying and feeling connected:

  1. Don’t type anything via a screen that you wouldn’t say in person.
  2. Use your words well, whether you are texting or messaging. Re-read it and attempt to avoid any misinterpretation before sending.
  3. Listen for tone of text/type/voice cues as to how the person is feeling and always check for understanding.
  4. Don’t delay responding to messages you would rather avoid. If you think you don’t completely understand, ask for more information rather than disregard, or ignore it.
  5. Remember emojis are not a real expression of feelings, nothing is better than hearing a laugh and seeing a smile on someone’s face – a gentle smile or a heartfelt hug has far more power than the cleverest emoticon.
  6. Aim for a balance of online and in-person contact.
  7. Think about what you are posting and how it affects others – double check that what you are writing represents you and your family in the best light.
  8. Be aware of the other person’s situation or needs if you are tagging or mentioning someone, or a company, or a site on social media groups. If in doubt, get their permission first, or wait 24 hours and see if you still want to type and send that message.

Mobile devices and computers are not just connecting tools for family and friends. The screen world expands to include a global network of people who have access to each letter you type and the technological footprint you are creating.

Source: Pixabay Skype

I enjoy the benefit of instantly sharing photos, quotes, memories, and activities on social media with my friends and family. I like that I can help others if they are struggling and respond to them in an online support group. However, in online groups,  some people use a screen and keyboard to confront others, and some share painful emotions that they would not do face-to-face. Therefore, I suggest that you use online communication and social media carefully and mindfully.

The Internet is a fantastic tool, and it is here to stay. To make technology serve you well requires sound judgment and educating yourself on how it works.

What are your top tips for screen time success?

Until next time, Kirsty 🙂

Images: Pixabay

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Are you pushing your ambitions onto your children?

The idea that parents try to live out their dreams through their children goes back at least as far as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, both of whom theorised about the phenomenon.

The psychologist Tanya Byron stated that when parents put too much pressure on children to succeed at a young age it will lead to a rise in levels of teenage stress and anxiety.

I was interviewed in 2012 by The Sydney Morning Herald for an article headlined, ‘Clone complex damages children, experts warn’. Unfortunately the dangers are just as real and happening today.

I believe, parents must recognise their children as individuals in their own right. Our children are not moulded in our image, they are not driven by our desires or fears, our likes and dislikes, and they do not necessarily have the same natural talents or interests we do. There may be similarities, however, our children are unencumbered by our experiences, life rules and limitations. This is to be embraced and explored – not exploited.

Susan Newman Ph.D said, “Parents work exceedingly hard to point their children in one direction or another to help them excel. In doing so, we have taken much of the fun out of being a parent and lost sight of what might make our children truly joyful.”

I suggest you can begin talking to your child today and find out what they like to do best. Once you know what is meaningful to your child arrange activities, conversations and tasks around this.

By listening, by being interested in their point of view, by taking time to understand their developmental needs – whilst keeping our feet firmly in the now – we are more able to achieve exactly what we are aiming for. And, what is it most parents aim for? The moment when we proudly reflect on being a part of the life of a happy, healthy, caring and satisfied adult. A person who has found success and comfort that is meaningful for them, that child you helped raise and nurture.

What are your thoughts? How do you support your child’s dreams?

Kirsty 🙂

Images: Pixabay

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Thats a wrap – what I learnt being a Uni student

Cheers (sounds of glasses clinking), why?

I have survived my first year of University as a mature aged student, I have survived my first year of my husband’s roster taking him away for three months at a time, and I have survived the first year of my daughter moving in to her own home and my eldest son moving back!

What a year it has been.

The impact didn’t hit me until this afternoon as I was driving home from campus after my final exam. I began to shallow breath, my nerves began to twitch, and I thought, “how the hell did I pull that off!” This year, I realised, I had faced every fear I had, I worked harder than I think I ever had, I swallowed my pride on more than one occasion, and I had weeks where I was learning so many new theories I thought my brain might break.

My home suffered, however, thankfully my children didn’t as I vowed, and followed through on, to be there for them whenever they needed me. My wellbeing was pushed to its limits and I had equal moments of feeling like super woman and a puddle!

So, you are getting the picture.

During this year, my husband was absent for ¾’s of it, and a handful of my closest friends had life throw them their own curve balls so they weren’t on call for me at times I thought I needed them most. Even so, I was never alone, I had people step up for me, check in on me and remind me that I was on the right track during the uphill stints – special thanks to Tracey, Anna and Cinty – you know why!

Fears that were faced: am I clever enough, judgement of others, making huge mistakes, can I do it all on my own, being too old, letting my family down, letting me down, saying no to some work opportunities, and have I got what it takes to be extraordinary?

What I now know: I am clever enough, I am a leader, I am strong, I may get it wrong sometimes, I can take critique, I’m okay with not knowing it all, my family is awesome, I am exactly where I need to be, I have grit and determination that even amazes me, I may be ageing but I am doing it with grace and style!

Already, from the expansion and development I am undergoing opportunities are flowing abundantly.  I am on committees, being paid for work at the Uni, I am meeting amazing people, business is booming and I am just beginning work with an organisation called Porn Harms Kids to make change and give our wonderful young people the best start possible. I am also so honoured to be credited with guiding others to study, grow and push themselves out of their comfort zone. That is probably my greatest honour.

Next year, I am sure, will bring more adventures, ups and downs, yet I will be even more prepared, even more inspired and, as always, supported.

Thank you, to those who have cheered me on; thank you, to those who were inspired; and thank you to me – bloody massive effort Kirsty 🙂

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FIFO Families – Parenting Tips and Tricks

I recently did a short talk at a FIFO family event in Perth.  The energy in the room was high and children were very excited with all the activities that were happening.  A perfect place to share tips and tricks to support parents.

Being Separated by Work, is a minefield of stress triggers for parents and children. Approaches to keep you and your children as stress-free as possible are outlined in video and handout below.

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FIFO Families – Get Organised In The Overwhelm

I recently did a short talk at a FIFO family event in Perth, (hence why there are so many children running across the stage!)

In the video below I will share with you the systems and processes that have worked for my clients and our family over the years.

Keeping to a set routine when Separated by Work is challenging. Every family has different needs and every working away roster has unique demands. Yet having a plan and being organised will decrease the overwhelm, and you will be better able to cope with the day to day tasks and responsibilities.

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How heavy is this glass of water?

I have been on an upward trajectory of achievements and success in the last couple of years.  All my dreams coming true –  going back to study at University, a published book, online membership site, successful business, financial ease, awesome friends and a close family. One would imagine that with all this success all my burdens, stress and worries would get less, or even be non-existant. A huge misperception!

People even often say to me I don’t know how you do it all with Uni, business, family and a husband that works away. They say, you are so strong, and so lucky to have it all! Then they ask me to share with them my secret, or want to know how can I do it all and find peace with some of the horrible things that have happened in my past. They want the magic solution that will change their life in an instant.  I can tell you, that there isn’t a magic solution; unless you call hard work, determination and never giving up in the face of numerous challenges a magic solution.

I usually explain by first assuring them I am neither lucky or completely calm all the time.  I let them know that it is a constant conscious choice to get up, step up, choose the emotional state I want to be in and smile.  And I then share with them one of my favourite parables to illustrate how to honour, recognise, acknowledge, let go of the ‘stuff’ and keep achieving; even in the face of adversity.

Imagine I am holding a glass of water and I ask you – “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter.  It all depends on how long I hold it.  If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light.  If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little.  If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor.  In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.

Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water.  Think about them for a while and nothing happens.  Think about them a bit longer and you begin to ache a little.  Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralysed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.

My message to you today:  It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses and worries.  No matter what happens during the day. As early in the evening as you can put all your burdens down.  Don’t carry them through the night and into the next day with you.  If you still feel the weight of yesterday’s stress, it’s a strong sign that it’s time to put the glass down.

And that is exactly the way I live my live and teach others to do the same. Work hard, be clear and focused on what you want, don’t get caught up in others dramas, don’t get caught up in your own regrets or what if’s, and always remember that the longer you hold on to the glass the heavier it gets until you are paralysed. Just for today – put it down and let it go – or ask someone to help you ease the burden.

Kirsty 🙂

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Not Home for Birthdays

We have two big birthday months in our home, June and September. My husband has been a FIFO (fly in fly out) worker for the last eight years and he is rarely home for any of the actual days. The first couple of years were the hardest for us all, but as the years went by our family became accustomed to his absence, and we developed ways that everyone’s presence is still felt, and the birthday boy or girl feels special and celebrated.

After talking to many families in similar situations, who ask me for ideas to keep connected when apart on a family member’s special day, I felt moved to share how we celebrate and create birthday memories.

My top six tips for families separated by work on birthdays are:

  1. Overthinking it is the number one enemy! I strongly advise you to not become completely immersed in the fact that you are away or your loved one isn’t there for the special day. This will fuel negative and destructive feelings of missing out, loneliness, isolation and seclusion. This type of thinking will put a dark cloud over all celebrations, which you will regret later.  Instead, attempt to keep as upbeat and prepared as possible, stay focused on a day of festivities and activities, and have a good time.
  2. Just because you are apart, no one is forgotten! Even though one family member is away from home, the day is not less important or forgotten by anyone. It certainly doesn’t even have to be downplayed.  We have instantaneous ways to communicate at our fingertips, we can pop up on screens to join in on the party and we can pre-plan activities to be involved in on the day.  At times, being separated by work on a birthday can make the day seem much more special because of the effort involved.
  3. Let your friends step up and help you celebrate! Instead of downplaying the day, hiding it, or telling people it is no big deal – let others make it a big deal. Even if you must arrange it, (I have found though that friends usually love being a part of the planning) have a group of people around you to make a fuss and celebrate the special occasion.
  4. Always celebrate when together as well! It may not be on the actual date, but pre or post parties and gatherings are always fun. In the future, no one will remember what date it was you celebrated, but everyone will remember how they felt every year being the centre of attention and spoiled for their day. So, look at the roster and plan ahead so that it doesn’t become overwhelming and too hard as the date rapidly arrives.
  5. Be a positive force of festivities for your children! Your children may feel it the most – Mum or Dad isn’t here for their birthday. This is a time when we as parents need to excel in role modelling that their day is still a super special one; that everyone is involved in some way, they may even get two celebrations out of this, and that even though this isn’t everyone’s normal it is our families normal.
  6. Pre-plan, prepare and pre-book! As mentioned above, planning is key whether it is your child’s birthday or yours. Sitting down together and planning the surprises and activities for the day keeps everyone involved and excited. Planting hidden presents and notes around the house or in luggage to be found on the day certainly warms the soul for the receiver, and booking venues and events in advance avoids disappointment.

To finish off, I would like to leave you with some of my favourite activities for celebrating and to inspire you to plan yours and your family’s special moments, whether you are together or apart:

  • Finding hidden notes and presents/scavenger hunt.
  • Spending time with friends.
  • Eating out.
  • Going to the movies.
  • Having a picnic at the beach.
  • Ordering pizza and having movie night at home.
  • Cooking (and cleaning up afterwards) done for me.
  • Treat myself pamper day.
  • Doing something I love doing.
  • Checking something off my ‘bucket’ list.
  • Getting flowers and eating cake.
  • Having lots of good food, laughter and fun.
  • Outdoor activities and hiking.
  • Going to a concert.
  • A weekend getaway.
  • Taking a cooking class.
  • Winery tour.
  • Having a tea party.
  • Painting party.
  • Themed party or get together.
  • Feeling loved, spoilt and special!

I would love to hear your ideas on how you do birthdays when separated by work or when you are apart from your family – and what are your favourite ways to celebrate?

Kirsty 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Reach out if you are struggling

Some people still think that it’s shameful if they have a mental illness, are experiencing a loss of control emotionally or irrational and dark thinking. There are those that assume it shows personal weakness or a failing. If it’s children who have a mental illness, some conclude it reflects the failings of the parents. Stigma and discrimination are the two biggest obstacles to a productive solution-based conversation about mental health.

I have had more people thank me than judge me because I have been so open about my stuff. I have had more people begin to cope again and even love life again, because I, and others like me, have shared our stuff and not hidden it behind the idea of right and wrong.

Mental health is becoming more recognised and discussed however, there is still some intolerance and small mindedness.  There always will be those people who cannot get out of their own way, but acceptance is growing.

A supportive program I have come across, delivered by Mates in Construction, is called the 4C’s. The third C was Caring and the fourth C was Courageous.

It stated in the part for caring— “I am accountable for my actions and actively care for the safety of myself and others—Care about the welfare of my neighbours …. Please keep an eye on your workmates and if someone is acting out of character, or saying things like I don’t see the point anymore, or there is no hope, please reach out to them and discreetly ask them if they’re okay, and if they’re not, help them get in contact with professional resources.”

Courage included the actions of— “I will speak up, provide positive feedback to my peers, and prevent incidents by utilising stop work authority and coaching. This also includes the courage to reach out to a work mate and ask them if they’re okay.”

If you find yourself in the gut wrenching or numb place of despair and your cup is empty, approach your mates, your family and even have a chat to a professional. Everyone at some time is running on empty and it takes courage to ask for help, to make the changes you need to make it to the next day.

From my years of experience personally and professionally, I have found that if you are not okay, nothing else will be, no matter what skill you adopt or distraction you create. The relationship you have with yourself will determine how you think and feel, how you deal with challenges, as well as the relationship you have with everyone else in your life. Your level of self-esteem and the value you put on yourself will determine your performance and productivity.

Activity

Just check in right now. Firstly, take a long slow deep breath. Feel the breath go in through your nose, travel down your throat, fill your lungs, and expand in your belly. Let it sit there for just a moment then exhale, blowing all the air out and as you do feeling a sense of release and calm. Do this a couple more times. Slow and controlled, and with an awareness of how you are already much more relaxed.

Now that you are more calm and centred, ask a few self-check-in questions—

  • How are you feeling?
  • How much do you like yourself?
  • How much do you understand yourself?
  • What are you good at? What do you love doing?
  • What are your favourite things?
  • Do you reward yourself?
  • What do you dislike?
  • Are you a friend to you, or are you your own enemy?
  • Close your eyes and imagine you can see your cup, is it full, empty or half way?
  • Are you aware of your thoughts and the way you think most of the time? What about now?

Take a few minutes to make some notes on your thoughts and findings.

If you discover that you are struggling with something, reach out to another who will listen and support you get back on track. I am here to support you, so please, reach out.

Kirsty 🙂

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