Top Health Tips for Contractors
Updated: Dec 16, 2022
Iron workers, painters, framers, concrete finishers, roofers, and electricians all have one thing in common. They all perform repetitive tasks that take a toll on their brain and body. Some Perform shift work, have multiple jobs, work while sleep deprived, and in inclement weather. All of these aspects can wreak havoc on your muscles, joints, and mental health.
In my life I have worked in roofing construction, bridge repair, concrete finishing, welding and fabrication, and operating utility boats for 12 hours a day. In the past I have lived off of gas station breakfast and energy drinks, functioning on little sleep, and expected to still do the job to the best of my ability. Below I share the things that have helped me in my past employment and now as a business owner. Please do your own research and if you have health issues then make sure to consult your doctor.
Sleep has been one of the most difficult aspects of my life. Working night shift and going to bed when the sun is rising was always challenging for me. Most days I would be working on 4-5 hours of sleep. Feeling of being depressed or a total lack of energy was just a daily occurrence. This is a list I try to follow and have had great results, if you want some great advice on sleep and wakefulness, I recommend checking out Andrew Huberman's podcast on Spotify. https://open.spotify.com/episode/3TxjF2mZy9S9I9GL5eZ8sq?si=3093dfca43964a20
dim all the lights and set all your electronic devises on night mode. If working night shift, then invest in some good black out curtains and wear sunglasses on the drive home to avoid sunlight viewing.
try to clear your head before you go to bed by turning off the tv, stretching, breath work, or meditation.
avoid drinking caffeine within 8 hours of going to bed and sugar within 2 hours.
learn to shut off your brain when you climb in bed. no thinking about work!
get a watch that tracks your sleep, over time you will find what is benefiting your sleep and what causes impairment.
avoid alcohol and cannabis, both cause drowsiness, but they also disrupt sleep cycles.
get a sleep study done. sleep apnea and other disorders are linked to major health issues.
Muscle and joint health
Trade work involves a lot of time being bent over, working overhead, and performing repetitive motions. These can cause inflammation and joint pain. In the past I have dealt with a lot of back and knee pain, below is what I have implemented and seen positive results.
go to the gym. I know time is limited but if you can manage 4-5 days a week for even a half hour it will be of benefit. Try to do some lightweight lifting, swimming, or yoga.
stretching. if you don't have time to go to the gym then stretch or do yoga a few days a week.
Sauna can help a lot with muscle soreness, recovery, and overall health and wellness.
Go for a short walk at the end of the day to loosen up and de-stress.
If I'm feeling overly stressed or anxious, then I've usually been shorting myself on time in the gym and sleep. However, these are not always the only contributing factors. Here are some other sources and my solutions.
Caffeine and sugar were something I had to cut back on. Both can increase stress/anxiety and if you are sleeping enough then you don't need high doses of caffeine.
Alcohol. It's tempting to get a few beers after work each day with the crew but overall it negatively effects sleep and stress levels.
When family if suffering or feuding, it can affect your stress and in turn your sleep. Try to resolve issues before you go to bed or write down your plan to resolve the situation.
Dating/Relationships. I know it can be tempting to argue it out over text whenever you get a break at work, but I recommend just waiting till you get home. Stay present and safe on the job.
Do some deep breathing or box breathing on your breaks and when commuting.
Diet has always been a struggle for me. Always being on the road, not having time to cook, not knowing what is actually good for you to eat, and wtf is macros? Mostly what I have found beneficial has just been through trial and error and finding what works for me.
during the week I try to mostly eat whole foods "plants and animals"
don't eat out of the gas station hot box. I know that breakfast burrito is calling your name but take the five minutes to make your own at home.
keep meal prep simple: boiled eggs, salad, granola, sandwich, fruit etc.
quit energy drinks and get a coffee maker.
Seems like the trades really do a number on everyone's energy levels. Most weekends are spent recovering from the work week and your current hangover. Eventually all it feels like you do is Work, sit in traffic, eat, and go to bed. Here is what helps me feel like I have some sort of life outside work or business.
get a hobby. if you're like me and don't have a hobby then make a list of some interesting activities and try them one at a time.
try not to overdo it at the bar on Friday or better yet just go straight home and make a plan for Saturday and what you are going to check off your hobby list.
get out of your city. pick a place you haven't been too and just get out of town for the weekend and explore. Museums, hikes, tours, breweries, and restaurants are in almost every city. Change of scenery will give you a mental break from the monotony and you will have a sense of accomplishment from the trip.
hope this information is beneficial and remember.......Start with small and manageable goals.