Being a FIFO worker can come with many challenges: you miss your friends and family when you’re away, you don’t have their support to turn to, and it can be lonely being far away from home. You’re probably working very long hours, in stressful environments, and by the time you’re home to Perth, you can feel so drained and burnt-out that you still haven’t quite recovered by the time your time off is finished and you’re back on the plane.
There have been studies that link FIFO work with mental health issues like anxiety and depression, and blogs like FIFO Men talking about how the effects of FIFO work on mental health isn’t getting anywhere near the attention it should. FIFO workers are often working in environments where you don’t really have anyone to turn to when you’re feeling down: the construction and mining industries can promote expectations of “tough guys”, and it can be embarrassing to talk to your blokey workmates about how you’re feeling. (And those blokey workmates might be feeling the same but not want to admit it either!)
There are organisations working to make positive changes, and stereotypical “tough guys” such as AFL players are sharing their own experiences of times when they felt down and needed to talk to someone. So hopefully things will get better in the years to come, but in the meanwhile, it’s important to use your downtime to take good care of yourself. Burn-out isn’t a badge of honour, and resting and recovering isn’t a sign of weakness: it’s one of the bravest things you can do.
Float to restore, at Float and Restore!
Floating is a great way to start your days off, by getting yourself ready to enjoy your time off properly: after many long shifts at work, getting into a floatation tank might not be the first thing you’d think of, but you’ve probably also had some days off work where you’re simply too exhausted and stressed to enjoy it, so it’s actually a very intuitive way to start off your free time on the right foot.
During your float, you’ll notice that the internal chatter going on in your mind starts to quiet down, and the physical and mental stresses get less and less as the time goes by – basically, your exhaustion will float away. Without any stimulation from the outside world, your brain will reach a point where it feels like what’s outside isn’t so important, and you’ll find yourself just being in the moment.
Yes, it’s not as entertaining as catching up on your favourite show, but actually, the lack of stimulation is so calming that it relaxes you more than TV ever could. And once you’ve finished your float, you’ll enjoy that Netflix marathon a lot more than you would have otherwise. It’s an investment in your time-off, and an investment in yourself, and the returns are fantastic.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need someone to talk to, there’s plenty of confidential support services available – Lifeline has a 24/7 crisis support line at 13 13 14.
We’re looking forward to seeing you at Float and Restore, and we hope you take good care of yourself both at work and when you’re back in town!