Being a FIFO worker with a young family can be a tough task, and it can be very easy to fall into a negative state of mind while being away for long periods of time. After being a FIFO worker for over a year now, I have developed 5 ways of coping with the FIFO life, and thought I would share them to help others deal with the sometimes-overwhelming aspects of working away.
Prioritize your ‘ME Time’
Being away from your family and doing nothing but work can be draining and depressing, so it is imperative you find time for yourself. Some activities I have found beneficial for my mental health while being away have enabled me to be a happier and healthier person in a sometimes-gloomy environment. These activities have improved my overall mood and enabled me to better cope with the monotonous repetitive tasks while at work.
Breathing and Meditation: During the early waking hours of the morning or late in the evening, I have found this exercise most beneficial. If you can start and end your day in a positive mindset, you will be more likely to maintain it throughout the day. Meditation allows your mind and body to relax and de-stress - have you ever woken up in the morning and found the same thoughts from the previous day pop up in your mind and play out like a tape recorder? These thoughts are mostly negative thoughts of stress, worry and fear. For me, meditating first thing in the morning releases these negative thought patterns and enables me to replace them with more positive ones. Coupled with some deep breathing it has completely changed my mindset for the day. Repeating again before bed can also clear your mind and release built up stress from the day.
Participate in extra curricular activities: Most camp sites will have activities you can participate in after the completion of the workday. These may include boot camps, tennis/basketball courts, a social hall with pool and ping pong tables etc. Exercise is a great tool to help release the feel-good hormones of your body, leaving you feeling energized for the next day. If you’re not into going to the gym and lifting heavy weights, you can have a game of tennis or basketball with some work friends. This has been a way I have found to be greatly beneficial for my mental health. It gives you the opportunity to socialize with like-minded people, while giving your body the benefits of exercise.
Use the minimal time you have wisely: Getting in the habit of getting back to your room, turning the T.V on and blankly staring at the screen to pass the time can feel pretty unrewarding after a while. Instead you could use your time more wisely to practice an old hobby such as art, writing or even getting outside for some fresh air and a brisk walk. I have found the less I do with my time the less I want to do. Laying in my bed watching T.V left me unmotivated and depressed. The mindset I use now is ‘the more I do, the more I will want to do’.
Socialize with new people: It can be easy to ignore people as you pass in the food hall or on your trip to and from your room. Instead, try and spark a conversation with a stranger. After all, you are all there doing the same thing and generally have more in common than you think. This can also be a great time to talk to a friend about what you are finding hard about this lifestyle and collaborate with them how they are managing it. I have never walked away from a conversation with a stranger feeling worse than I did before I started. You never know when you could find a potential friend for life.
Call your family daily: I generally find the more time I spend prioritising my needs first, the better I am able to deal with my family. It is always said you cannot pour from an empty cup. The truth is, your family needs you to be emotionally available as you cannot be physically there for them. Call them daily after you are in a good mood and interact with them on platforms such as FaceTime or Skype. This has acted as a great reminder to me as to the reasons why I am doing this. The laughs and giggles of my children have always given me the motivation I need to do what I need to do. Looking your family in the eye and telling them you love and miss then will help you get through the last few dreaded days of being away.
While there are many difficult things to deal with while being away and working for extended periods of time, I have found these practices to have significantly improved my mental and physical health. Going from a depressed, empty partner and father, I have found some light as to the reasons why I do this. I try to remember this position is temporary and sometimes short-term pain can result in a long a term gain. I acknowledge this is not a forever job and to focus on the end result and being able to provide a better life for my family.
Do you use any of these tools already, or are you keen to try some next time you are away? Let me know how you go!