Field service technicians have one of the most stressful jobs in Australia. Not only do they have to do backbreaking work, but they often have to operate in harsh, sometimes hazardous conditions. To make matters worse, stress levels are at an all-time high because there’s a lot of economic uncertainty amid the extended COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. Field technicians may be worrying about potential unemployment or dealing with increasing workloads despite a labour and material shortage.
If you’re under a lot of stress because of these circumstances, there are a few things you can do to keep your mental health in check.
Maintain a healthy work-life balance
Overworking is a common trap you can fall into as a field worker, especially given today’s challenging work climate. You might feel the need to take on as many assignments as you can get during this economic downturn. Meanwhile, if you’re required to work from home, it can be difficult to compartmentalise your personal and professional lives. Whatever the case may be, extending yourself too much is a surefire way to burn yourself out.
To better manage your stress levels, you need to know your limits and learn to unplug from work. This can be as straightforward as logging off your work applications and emails right after the end of your shift. You should also prioritise sleep, set aside time for leisure activities, spend time with your friends and family, and take days off when you’re feeling stressed.
Regular exercise is heavily linked to relieving stress and boosting your mood. In fact, studies show that exercise decreases the body’s level of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Physical activity also stimulates the production of endorphins, which are the chemicals in charge of reducing pain and elevating your mood. Simply put, exercise is a great way to unwind and free your mind from the worries of daily life.
What’s more, strengthening your muscular and aerobic endurance will give you much more flexibility and energy for a long day’s work. This doesn’t just mean you’ll be more efficient at your job, but your self-confidence will improve as you gain better control over your body. Exercise is even known to improve sleep quality, allowing you to start your days fully relaxed and refreshed.
Some exercise programs that are effective for field workers during the pandemic include strength training, calisthenics, walking/jogging, and yoga. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be limited to these exercises. As long as you enjoy the activity and it fits within your schedule, you’ll be leading a more stress-free lifestyle.
Eat a balanced diet
When you’re under a lot of stress, it may be tempting to reach for calorie-dense junk food like chips, ice cream, and pizza. While these foods might provide some momentary relief, relying on them can result in weight gain and take a toll on your mental health.
Instead, opt for nutritious high-quality foods that fuel you throughout the day and improve your mood for longer. For starters, look for good sources of protein such as free-range chicken and eggs, grass-fed beef, and beans. Eat wild-caught fish such as salmon to add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Reach for spinach and other leafy greens to boost your brain health. Finally, round out your diet with healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
There are many easy and tasty recipes that you can make with these ingredients, but if you need some inspiration, you can get plenty of ideas on the @thehealthytradie Instagram page.
Take a deep breath
Simple breathing exercises can help you relax and stay calm under pressure. Start by sitting or lying down in a comfortable position with one hand on your chest and another on your belly. Then, inhale deeply through your nose and let your belly fill with air. If you feel your chest expanding more than your belly as you inhale, your breathing may be too shallow. Hold your breath for five seconds and exhale through your mouth, then repeat this process three to five times.
Deep breathing techniques also go hand in hand with mindfulness meditation, where you spend a few minutes every day calmly focused on processing your current thoughts and feelings. If you’re interested in guided meditation exercises, The Healthy Tradie Project offers some useful tools.
Seek mental health support
In the field service industry, there’s often pressure to work hard every waking minute and shrug off any signs of stress. However, chronic stress can lead to anxiety and depression, which largely explains why the industry suffers from high suicide rates. It’s therefore vital for you to communicate feelings of stress so you can get the support you need and take better care of your mental health.
For instance, if you’re dealing with heavy workloads, talk to your manager about reducing your assignments and taking a mental health day to avoid burnout. The pandemic, your work stability, and social circumstances may also be causing your stress. In these cases, you shouldn’t feel ashamed to seek help from professional counsellors and psychologists.
More importantly, contact support lines like R U OK if you have feelings of depression or suicide. R U OK is a harm prevention charity WorkBuddy actively supports. It’s a charity organisation that helps people stay connected with their support networks and have conversations to help them deal with their daily struggles. R U OK also provides various resources for identifying signs of distress and year-round activities to bring people together. If you want to get involved, host an event, or simply need someone to talk to, get in touch with them right now.
Sometimes, the most stressful part of the job isn’t the manual labour; it’s the mountains of paperwork you have to deal with every day. Filling out job forms, compliance checklists, expense reports, and invoices takes a lot of time away from actual field service. Plus, doing everything on paper is much more tedious and error-prone.
The best solution to this is to work smarter by using a mobile field service management system like WorkBuddy. With WorkBuddy at your fingertips, you can digitise paperwork and automate several processes like dispatching, on-site compliance and invoicing. This allows you to focus more on the work you were hired to do rather than spend time pushing paper.
Stress is a problem that everyone in the field service industry goes through, and you don’t have to face it alone. There are many resources online you can use to get professional advice and mental health support. WorkBuddy also provides powerful solutions that can make your day less stressful. Contact us today to learn more about our software.