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Wellbeing advice for non-working construction workers

2020-04-28

Some professions don’t lend themselves to working from home, meaning that when times get tough, wellbeing can become a concern. This is particularly true for construction workers, who are used to a physically demanding and practical job that provides tangible results day after day. Therefore, when work is no longer possible – due to market realities or global circumstances – the lack of purpose, structure, and physical exercise can have some negative ramifications if left unchecked. This article offers some wellbeing advice for non-working construction workers, providing some top tips for maintaining good mental health, fitness, and general assistance for how to get through this period.

Maintain your physical fitness

The life of a construction worker is not an idle one. The physical fitness required is a key component to daily life on the job – whether that’s when building new structures or fitting passenger lifts. Sitting around at home will cause your body to adapt to this new mode of life, leading to aches and pains you might not otherwise have experienced. So, for those who are now at home and unable to work, it’s important to maintain that level of fitness as much as possible and counteract the decreased activity levels you are experiencing.

The good news is that there are numerous exercises you can try at home, creating your own personal work-out regime with very little equipment needed (if any). Below are a few examples.

At-home exercises for non-working construction workers

  • Press-ups
  • Mountain climbers
  • Lunge with twist
  • Glute bridges
  • Squat jumps
  • Planks
  • Squats

Bonita, a life coach, business psychologist, and a qualified hypnotherapist over at Hypnotherapy Associates, has the following advice for those who can no longer work their physically demanding jobs: “Often people claim to ‘feel bad’ or ‘sluggish’ when they don’t do anything physical but often this is untrue and is more a perception than reality. It can also be that when you are at home, you tend to eat more, therefore you are aware that you are not burning off any calories.”

Aside from actual exercise, Bonita says that “visualisation of doing exercise itself can also keep muscles firm! There was an experiment where individuals in hospital visualised doing exercise and this actually increased their muscle density over time versus the control group that didn’t.”

Watch what you eat

Man Eating Eggs

When stuck at home for a prolonged period, it can be tempting to gorge on comfort food. This urge is compounded all the more if you are feeling down, worried, or stressed about your current situation. So, try to resist this urge and look after your nutrition. This will bode well in the long run for when you are ready to go back to work. Go Contractor reports: “Poor diets and bad nutrition can have a detrimental effect on manual labourers and contractors: affecting their morale, safety, productivity and long-term health.”

Exercise, after all, is just one component of a healthy body. Eating slow-releasing carbs such as oats and potatoes, as well as foods rich in protein like meat, eggs, and fish, will help you feel fuller for longer, reducing your desire to snack excessively.

Eating right during your time at home is also a good habit to get used to for when you are back at work. Construction blog, The Hard Hat Guy, discusses the benefits of protein in a construction workers diet:

“A construction worker is a lot like a weightlifter and so there is an overlap in the diets of construction workers and bodybuilders. For one, both construction workers and bodybuilders need a lot of protein. Protein is used primarily for rebuilding and repair damaged cells and tissues. As a construction worker (and a bodybuilder), you put your body under a lot of stress and your body will need to repair itself. It needs protein to do this.”

Protect your mental health

At times like this, protecting your mental health is paramount. Being without work and having economic concerns can take its toll on anyone – it’s perfectly normal to be concerned by such circumstances. But it’s important to not let the concerns get the better of you, taking what steps you can to look after yourself. For example, during the global COVID-19 pandemic, it can be easy to obsess over the news and become addicted to social media rumours. Try to avoid this. Pay attention to what’s going on but within reason and only give your attention to official news reports and government advice.

Bonita shared her top piece of advice in this vital area: “A good thing to do is see life in its entirety rather than just the current situation you are in. In therapy, we often do something called ‘the rocking chair moment’ where you imagine looking back on your life at the end of your life. It is an interesting exercise, where you can view current problems often in a different light in the future.

“Some of our most challenging times are when we have to get creative to find solutions and therefore, grow the most emotionally and creatively. It also helps you to see that in life as a whole, often difficult times are very brief and that you will soon move on and change. It is also good to understand the reason for your suffering. Is it about money? Are you visualising a catastrophic future? Where you can, visualise something more positive, or that, over time, the money will be replenished, for example.”

Make time for you

Man Meditating At Home

Making time for you will be essential during this period. Of course, looking after your family comes first but don’t forget yourself. Carving out a little time each day to focus on you will reap significant benefits for your wellbeing. Consider finding distractions to help take your mind off things, as dwelling on situations out of your control will not help your mental state. Try participating in your favourite hobbies, find new ones, enjoy some entertainment on TV or online with the family, and anything else that will bring you joy.

Reducing stress plays a big role in looking after your wellbeing and an option many choose is meditation. At the beginning of each day, take 10 minutes to centre yourself, relax, and participate in this exercise, clearing your head so that you can start the day on the right note. The app Headspace will be a great help as it teaches you the basics of meditation.

The team at Headspace say: “Meditation has been shown to help people stress less, focus more and even sleep better. Headspace is meditation made simple. We’ll teach you the life-changing skills of meditation and mindfulness in just a few minutes a day.”

Participate in meaningful activities

As mentioned, a life of idleness isn’t one that is typically well suited to those in the construction industry. You will be used to being practical, working with your hands, and benefitting from the sense of purpose that comes from such an integral profession. During your time at home, it is therefore important to participate in some meaningful activities. While being responsible and safe, you could look to volunteer your time to helping those in need, fixing things for neighbours, and tackling tasks at home that will give you satisfaction. You have a wonderful toolset of skills at your disposal, so make use of them if you can.

Try to keep a daily routine

Alarm Clock

Routine is a daily part of normal working life: getting up in the morning, getting ready for work, the commute, lunch breaks, the journey home etc. Not to mention the daily tasks you have when actually on the job. Unfortunately, this routine will be totally disrupted when you are no longer working. Living without a routine can become quite a shock as a result, leading to boredom, lack of purpose, and it will also make adjusting to work more difficult when you get back on the job.

Try to keep a daily routine at home to counteract this. Get up promptly in the morning as you would do if heading to work, bathe, get dressed and go to bed at a time you normally would. This will help create that feeling of normalcy.

It also helps to have jobs, tasks, exercise and hobbies planned throughout the day. Make a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Make it part of your routine. Not only will this make returning to work easier but your time at home will pass much quicker and more pleasantly.

Tips for non-working construction workers

  • Maintain your physical fitness
  • Watch what you eat
  • Protect your mental health
  • Make time for you
  • Participate in meaningful activities
  • Try to keep a daily routine

There is no question that life for non-working construction workers is difficult but hopefully, these tips will help make this period easier. So, consider some of the above, make use of the time at your disposal, and look after yourself. That way, you can be ready and raring to go when it’s time to get back to work.

For more advice and tips, make sure to take a look at our news page.

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