Self-care tips for anyone who works in mining

An acrobat against a sunset.

Are you taking time out for the things that matter? Self-care is really important, especially if you’re working FIFO.

We are all busy.

You may be a parent who works away, or someone with a long commute to a mine site. You might be a full-time residential worker and parent balancing career, family and home commitments. Or you might be working long hours in a busy mining role.

Being “busy” seems to be a reality of life in today’s world.

With the mining industry operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, it’s easy to lose focus on what is important, and to always be “busy” even when you are on R&R. This is why taking time out is more important than ever. And it is just as important that we support our family, friends and colleagues when they need to take time out, too.

Do any of these situations sound familiar?

  • You’re often the first one in and the last one to leave. (Either you’re “living to work” or you’re “working to live” – if it’s the former, it’s time to prioritise!)
  • Not taking annual leave throughout the year. (Does your company award a prize for this? My guess is no!)
  • Heading back to work after R&R and bragging about how many emails you managed or how many hours you worked. (R&R is meant to stand for “rest and recreation”, so it’s time to claim back your time.)

Mining industry employees, it’s time to value your worth

My challenge to you is to consider this: If you wouldn’t accept a role paying 30% less than your current salary, why are you working for 30% of your time off? Why are you giving more hours than you’re contracted to do?

While many contracts include a component for work outside of standard operational hours, ask your manager for a number of additional hours. Ten per cent extra on a 40-hour week, city-based role may not be too bad. But 10% extra on a two-weeks on, one-week off roster of 168 hours can soon become an extra day and a half. 

(I appreciate, of course, that some managers will say they know many people spend a couple of hours or so on personal matters during work time and so doing company work in personal time is just ‘balancing things back up”.)

It’s time to take the time

The concept of “balancing things back up” and living a flexible work-life balance may apply under certain circumstances or for certain job types, but it shouldn’t be a blanket rule. It is important to recognise that the process of simply “switching off” is incredibly valuable for most people - and if you are not doing that, you are probably harming yourself.  

So why do so many people working in mining sell themselves short on taking time out for self-care? 

It is an investment in your capacity to stay on top of your workload, daily life and overall commitments. It is about being the best you can be and ensuring there is time and energy left for the people in your life. After all, as anyone who works in palliative care will tell you, no one ever says they wish they had spent “more time in the office”.

Make a commitment to start today

There are so many physical and emotional problems that can be better managed through finding 15 minutes a day to take care of yourself.

At Home

  • Eat healthily
  • Cut back on caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes
  • Enjoy life’s little moments
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Exercise
  • Make a deal with yourself to take your annual leave
  • Book a holiday and ensure the next one is booked (even if is just a long weekend) before you return home after this holiday (to give you something to look forward to)
  • Turn your phone off, or leave it at home if you go out
  • Turn off your email for a day.

(Don’t those last two sound scary?!)

In the workplace

  • Learn to say no
  • Delegate
  • Stop micromanaging
  • Develop your team
  • Ask yourself ‘is this an essential task?’
  • Manage your emails (perhaps only checking them twice a day)
  • Ask yourself ‘is this meeting necessary?’
  • Don’t discuss, do. You can save a lot of time by getting on with things that need to be done!

Being a workaholic is not a trait many companies are looking for in leaders nowadays. Having a healthy and balanced approach to life ensures you are a well-rounded, balanced leader who is focused and on the ball. You’re able to manage the curveballs thrown your way. And believe it or not, that’s what your team want as well, particularly in high-pressure environments such as mining.

Time to look for a new mining job? MPI has been a mining industry recruitment specialist for 30 years. Register with us here and let us help you find the right job.

Dan Hatch
Mining People International