Last October I was invited to give some talks on Mental Health management, to Construction Workers. This happened during Construction Safety Week. I was very impressed with Rossmore Civils Ltd, for thinking outside the box by looking for more holistic natural stress solutions for their workers.
While I normally work with women I willingly took on this invitation because most of these construction workers have a wife or partner and quite possibly children. Stress affects everyone. By working with Construction staff on managing their stress, I am easing stress in the whole household.
Over 50% of Male Suicides Are In The Construction Sector
Did you know that over 50% of male suicides in Ireland were in the Construction sector, with 1 in 4 construction workers admitting that they had contemplated suicide. I imagine that could be higher now with the added pressure of working through lockdowns. When I read these stats, I knew straight away that I was going to give these talks. I had something to say on how these workers and every worker could manage their stress better and so hopefully avoid such mental health issues.
What Did I Say To The Construction Staff?
I talked to my own lived experiences of being over-stressed for many years and how that stressed state impacted me and my health. Then I talked about what I do to help myself surf the stress that comes at me daily.
You Are Wired To Survive
When it comes to coping with stress, you are wired to first survive and then thrive. You will kick into being on high alert when you think you are being threatened or when you feel you are under threat. You and I both have a stress response system that releases the same hormones every time you think you are under threat.
What happens after the hormones are released can be different – the flight, fight or freeze bit is dependant on your past experiences, but the general stress response is pretty much the same for all of us.
Construction Sites Can Be Stressful
From talking with my friends in Construction, I have no doubt that building sites are stressful places. With so many people all trying to meet their deadlines site safety must be a huge concern. Then you have outdoor weather conditions to cope with. High winds, rain, freezing temperatures, etc.. not to mention the macho image that can attach itself to construction. I would have a guess that many construction workers do not talk about their stresses and struggles.
I’ve Got The “Over-Stressed” Tee-Shirt
I may never have worked on a building site, but I do have plenty of experience of coping with the fallout of being in an overstressed state for many years. It isn’t pretty when you are on the flat of your back undergoing tests, feeling like a pin cushion thanks to all the blood tests. Week after week those tests showed little except ‘all readings being low, but not dangerously low, or high but not dangerously high’.
Being Overstressed Causes Illness
Eventually a consultant told me I had a Post Viral Illness. But why wasn’t it going away? What was wrong? No medical doctor could tell me it was stress related. That information came from the complementary therapies I began to attend.
I was too stressed for my immune system to work. I was too stressed to be able to digest my food. I was so used to being stressed that I wasn’t noticing all the many symptoms of stress. I had adapted to my symptoms as being my normal way. This left me totally open to being vulnerable to every type of illness including mental illness.
Mental Health And Stress
Stress took its toll on my mental health and my physical health. I developed anxiety. Anxiety and depression are symptoms of long term stress. The post virus state was also a symptom of being over-stressed.
You Need To Surf Those Stress Waves
Everyday you are going to be on alert for different reasons. You need to develop a stress management system that will help you surf your waves of stress. This is what I do. I have a daily plan that I have built up over the years. I know the things that help me manage stress. I also know what triggers me off into stress.
Tapping Calms and Retunes the Stress Triggers
I help myself calm stress and resolve triggers with my Two Meridian Tapping System. More and more research is coming out to verify how powerful Tapping can be for reducing all stress and clearing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – with lasting effect. You can read how Tapping Helped me in my book Tap Into Success.
Imagine how Tapping could help those on construction sites to reduce their stress levels. This is what I talked about during Construction Safety Week. I talked about simple and effective tools that can help reduce stress levels. Tools like Solar Plexus breathing, positive thinking (with Tapping), even preparing your bedroom for a restful sleep, can really help you lower your stress levels.
Diet And Stress
Diet is a huge factor for Construction Staff. When you are using a lot of energy on-site, you want to get a lot of energy in fast. There are so many processed fast-food options available to help with this need. Processed and fast foods are full of sugars and trans fats which can really add to stress related illnesses and mental health issues.
A little bit of planning can go a long way in helping Construction staff turn their diet and their health around. I know some guys who work in construction and they will pre cook food on Sunday that they can freeze and use through the week. A great idea for all of us. I always chop a big tub of vegetables so I have them ready for steam frying each day. I also make some soup that will keep me going for a few days. This way I know that I am eating fresh food that will meet my personal needs.
Water And Stress
Drinking 2 litres of water through the day keeps your whole energy system hydrated. Dehydration is one of the fastest ways to trigger a stress response. Just like the engine of a car, when there is not enough water in our body our nervous system can’t work at its best. The brain will not function properly and you are more likely to pick up a virus or other infection. Dehydration will also keep you awake at night.
Exercise And Stress
Somewhere exercise went from being essential for life to a something I might or might not do. I think it happened when the world began to look at exercise as something that you did in a gym or had to have an expert tell you how to do it.
Exercise is any action that gives you daily weight bearing motion. This is what the body actually needs, every single day, to keep all the trillions of cells working at their best. I use a rebounder to get my exercise. I generally rebound every day for 15-20 minutes. But it doesn’t have to be rebounding. I talked to the guys on the Construction Safety events about going for a brisk 20 minutes walk during their lunch or tea breaks. Grab an apple and water and walk, or jog.
You Have The Power To Make Changes In Your Life
Regardless of where you work, there is a lot about your job that you cannot change. But there are many things that you can change – like your diet, your water intake, your sleeping pattern, your positive thoughts and your exercise. Focus on these aspects of your day and help yourself manage life so much better. Help yourself to feel better and then to surf your stress waves.
Now, over 20 years later, I manage to surf the waves of stress that come my way (most days). I also avoid many stressors that I know will throw me over the edge. I talk about these all the time. I encourage you to make changes in your own life and even talk to your loved ones about how these changes can help them manage stress better before stress breaks down their immune system.
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