At Urban Balance, many of our clients deal with the challenges of working second or third shifts in industries such as retail, hospitality and theater. We see night shift employees often struggle to balance work with sleep, social lives, exercise and other aspects of a healthy life. Your schedule may not align with most, but you can still enjoy a full, productive life. This is one of the biggest reasons why we have extended hours at our counseling centers in Illinois, because we want to cater to your unique lifestyle and needs. Check out these tips for creating a work-life balance as a night shift employee, courtesy of Urban Balance Counseling.
Define Your Schedule
In order to maximum your awake hours, you need to set up a schedule. Mainly, you need to determine if you will run errands and enjoy personal time before or after work. Example…
- Work 7 PM to 7 AM. Run errands. Go home. Personal time. Shower. Sleep. Wake up.
- Work 7 PM to 7 AM. Go home. Personal time. Sleep. Wake up. Shower. Run errands.
If you switch between night shifts and day shifts, you may have different schedules for each scenario. Some people immediately want to sleep when they get home from work, while others want to accomplish everything they can before they go to bed. You know what fits your personality the most. Once you get into a consistent routine, you will feel more energized during your time awake.
Leave Work At Work
When your work shift is over, you need to focus on your personal life. Picture a switch in your mind that you flip off once you leave the office. Don’t answer work emails or think about the next day’s tasks until shortly before your next shift starts. Your work life shouldn’t bleed into your personal life.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule for on-call employees. If you must keep your work phone on you at all times, you should still keep your mind off work as much as possible. Find hobbies that you enjoy and spend time with friends who do not work with you. Create as much separation as possible so you can truly enjoy both sides of your life.
Establish A Sleep Routine
Night shift employees often struggle with sleep because they have to sleep during daylight hours. Sleep is essential for mental health though. This is when your mind sorts through the stress and chaos from the day so you can feel fresh and energized when you wake.
To get solid rest, you need to sleep and wake up around the same time each day. Create a predictable routine for your body to get used to. Wind down with a good book or a TV show you like (nothing too thought provoking), and turn everything off at least 30 minutes before you fall asleep. You can use face masks, room darkening curtains and ear plugs to create a quiet resting environment, and you should shift into sleep much easier after that.
Don’t Adjust Your Schedule Too Much On Days Off
You should enjoy your time off, but try not to adjust your schedule too much. Focus on evening activities that would happen during your natural working hours, and stay up until early morning before going to bed. This will make it easier to get back into work when the time comes.
For more help with work-life balance, stress management, depression treatment, relationship issues and the like, contact our counseling centers in Illinois.