Modern society demands all-hours access to health care, transportation, hospitality and emergency response. This demand has created the need for shift workers, people who make their skills available around the clock. But, observes author Stephen Wilmot, such workers face physical, psychological and social health issues arising from shift work’s high-stress and demanding schedules.
Wilmot’s experience as a mental health nurse in the Australian correctional system and, later, as a team leader in a high security mental hospital, acquainted him with the problems of working in high-stress environments. Dealing with his own potential burnout led the author to create a comprehensive program of wellness for shift workers.
In Part 1 of Survive Shift Work, Wilmot presents the health challenges shift work entails. He explores the nature of stress and its impact on the body and mind and on relationships. The book’s second part examines coping behaviors that build psychological resilience. It also explores why changing behavior is so difficult and how shift workers can develop the motivation to cultivate healthier habits. Part 3 discusses specific strategies for realizing improved physical, mental and social health through diet, exercise, meditation, mindfulness, etc.
Wilmot puts together a convincing program for wellness. He emphasizes self-discipline, and his program is detailed and rigorous. Spiced with anecdotes and the findings of relevant studies, the author presents his research in an approachable, matter-of-fact style, taking a pragmatic tone, rarely bogged down by elaborate theories.
However, Wilmot sometimes makes major change in long-standing habits seem a bit too easy. For instance, he provides forms for assessing a person’s motivation for change, reducing complex factors like motivation and confidence to a number. Even if updated frequently, it seems questionable that filling in this form will really help influence recalcitrant people to change their health habits.
Despite this flaw, the author’s holistic health tips are sound, well-researched and useful, not only for shift workers but for any reader who desires improved well-being.