Through this month we are talking about the importance of mental health, how to create change, and what organizations should be doing in this space. While we are working on and withing organizations to make improvement, each of us should also take deliberate steps to focus on our own self-care. Working in construction is often a very demanding job, both physically and mentally. That's why it's important for each of us to build a foundation of self-care in order to stay healthy and productive. This blog post will provide tips and advice on how to prioritize self-care in the construction industry, so that you can maximize your mental and physical wellbeing.
Get enough sleep
Sleep is essential for maintaining good physical and mental health, and construction workers are no exception. In fact, the physically demanding nature of our work means that getting enough sleep is even more crucial. Lack of sleep can lead to exhaustion, decreased cognitive function, and an increased risk of accidents on the job.
To ensure that you get enough sleep, aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends. If you are having trouble falling or staying asleep, try creating a comfortable sleep environment by making sure your room is cool, dark, and quiet. Consider investing in a comfortable mattress and pillow to help improve your quality of sleep.
Remember, taking care of your physical health through sleep is just as important as taking care of your mental health. So, make getting enough sleep a priority in your daily routine, and you'll be on your way to building a strong foundation for self-care in the construction industry.
Another important aspect of self-care is exercise. Engaging in physical activity not only benefits our physical health, but it also has a positive impact on our mental well-being. In fact, studies have shown that exercise can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Here are a few tips for incorporating exercise into your routine:
Schedule it in: Treat exercise like any other appointment and schedule it into your calendar. This can help ensure that you make time for physical activity and prioritize it in your day.
Choose an activity you enjoy: Find an activity that you enjoy, whether it be lifting weights, going for a run or walk, or playing a sport. This can help make exercise feel less like a chore and more like an enjoyable activity.
Buddy up: Finding a workout buddy can make exercising more fun and provide some extra accountability.
Make it social: Consider joining a sports team or exercise class where you can meet new people and socialize while getting your heart rate up.
Remember, any physical activity is better than none. Even taking a short walk during your lunch break can have a positive impact on your mental health. Find what works for you and prioritize exercise as a part of your self-care routine.
As important as getting enough sleep and exercise, eating a balanced and healthy diet plays a crucial role in maintaining good mental health. Your body and brain require the proper nutrients to function correctly, and consuming junk food and processed snacks may lead to feelings of sluggishness, irritability, and low mood.
Ensure you're getting the proper nutrients by consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats. Limit your sugar and caffeine intake, and avoid skipping meals or eating excessively fast food. Make an effort to prepare your meals at home instead of relying on fast food or vending machine options.
As a construction worker, it may be challenging to find time for meals or healthy options while on the job site. Try meal prepping and packing snacks to bring with you to work to help you resist unhealthy options. Keeping your energy levels up and providing your body with the necessary nutrients it needs can have a significant impact on your overall mental health.
By incorporating healthy eating habits into your routine, you'll be able to improve your mental and physical health, increase energy levels, and ultimately perform better at work. Remember, eating healthy isn't just about your physical health; it's just as crucial for your mental well-being.
Construction workers often work long hours with little rest. This can lead to exhaustion and burnout, both physically and mentally. Taking breaks throughout the day is essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance and reducing stress.
Whether it's a short break to grab a snack (that you packed) or a longer break to rest your body and mind, make sure you take the time to recharge. Use this time to stretch, go for a walk, or do something you enjoy, like reading a book or listening to music. Avoid checking your phone or answering work emails during your breaks.
Taking regular breaks not only improves your mental health but also increases productivity and focus when you return to work. Don't be afraid to communicate with your colleagues and managers about the importance of breaks for maintaining mental wellness. By making self-care a priority, you'll be a better worker and a healthier, happier person overall.
Talk to someone
Asking for help or talking to someone about your struggles is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength. It takes courage to open up to others and express what you are feeling. When it comes to mental health, talking to someone you trust, like a friend, family member, or a mental health professional, can make a huge difference.
Construction can be a high-stress and physically demanding job, so it's crucial to have someone to talk to when things get tough. Whether you're experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression, having a listening ear can help ease the burden and provide valuable support.
If you're not comfortable talking to someone you know, consider seeking professional help. Mental health professionals, such as therapists or counselors, can offer confidential support and guidance to help you cope with your feelings.
These are just a few tips to help you with your self-care plan, you choose what works for you!
For those who are curious, or want some more ideas, here are a few things on my self-care plan:
Get at least 8 hours of sleep / night (yes, I do love my sleep)
Play with my dog every day
Hit my move goal on my Apple watch
Get a massage once per month
Talk a walk at least three times per week
Connect with my aunt (who lives locally) or a friend (in person or virtually) for wine once per month
Take a weekend trip with each of my immediate family members each year
Stop responding to emails after I am done with work for the day