Words: Chelsea Wright
Mason contractors are some of the hardest working people out there, typically working in intense climates and demanding environments. It’s essential to keep your body and mind healthy, avoid accidents, and perform your best. Early mornings, working long hours, and traveling to and from jobsites, can make sticking to a healthy lifestyle challenging. We’ll share our top five healthy habits you can establish on and off the jobsite, to improve your health and, in turn, boost your productivity.
- Hydration is Key:
Water makes up about 60% of your body’s weight; every system in your body needs water to survive. Staying hydrated is a non-negotiable for a bricklayer. Just a slight drop in the normal water levels in your body can be dangerous. If you’ve ever been on a jobsite and suddenly felt sluggish or winded while performing your usual tasks, dehydration may be the cause.
Consuming enough water is crucial for many reasons, including regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, proper organ function, and illness prevention. According to the National Institutes of Health, optimal hydration also promotes better sleep, cognition, and mood. When working in such a physically demanding role, you can quickly lose water through sweat. That’s why it’s essential to make sure you’re not losing more water than you’re taking in. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends that men consume around 3.7 liters of water a day and approximately 2.7 liters a day for women.
An easy way to ensure that you’re consuming an adequate amount of water is to make it a habit to keep a large water bottle with you. Fill it up at the start of your day, and make it your goal to finish the container by the end of the day. Drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated, but it’s not the only way. Consuming foods with high water content, such as fruits and vegetables, can count towards your daily water intake as well.
2. Upgrade Your Diet:
When performing hard, physical, labor regularly, your food choices directly impact your energy levels and cognition. Adopting healthier habits will positively impact your work performance, wallet, mental sharpness, and more. Planning your meals ahead of time and keeping an eye on your food choices can be a game-changer.
Challenging yourself to take on healthier eating habits is not confused with short term weight loss gimmicks. Consider making it a habit to add foods to your diet that will keep you full, energized, and alert. These changes don’t have to happen overnight. Simply making a few healthy swaps can make all the difference. For example, start with swapping out what you’d typically choose for breakfast with a healthier option. A quick, easy, and cost-efficient meal is oatmeal. Oatmeal is loaded with whole grains and fiber to keep you fuller, longer and provides a boost of energy.
Another great way to stay on top of your diet is to meal prep. Meal prepping is simply the act of preparing a meal, then portioning it out to create grab-and-go meals for later. When planning your meals, you’ll want to focus on having these three main food groups: lean protein sources, nutrient-dense carbohydrates, and fresh produce. Grabbing fast food is convenient but is more likely to slow you down than boost your energy. Meal prepping can save you a lot of time and money and help you avoid a midday crash.
3. Get Enough Rest:
We’ve all been there. It’s 2:30 pm on a Tuesday, you’re on a jobsite and can’t stop looking at your watch. You’re exhausted from staying up too late the night before and can barely focus on your work. All you’re thinking about is your bed. When working in masonry, sleep deprivation can lead to accidents and dangerous mistakes.
The Center for Disease Control recommends that adults get between seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Americans commonly deal with sleep disorders, but the long-term effects of sleep deprivation are real. The National Institute of Health states: “a lack of sleep can drain your mental abilities and put your physical health at real risk…linking poor slumber with several health problems, from weight gain to a weakened immune system.” Do yourself a favor tonight- put down your phone, turn off the television and get some shut-eye. Your body will thank you in the morning.
4. Don’t Skip the Doctor’s Office:
Long hours of bricklaying can take a toll on your body, and construction workers- one of the most injury-prone populations, are often hesitant to seek medical care for their aches and pains. To keep your job, you may tend to push through the pain. But this can do more harm than good.
Masons should have all injuries evaluated and treated to avoid further complications. In addition to getting injuries treated, be sure to head to the doctor for regular check-ups to prevent illnesses. If you’re regularly experiencing fatigue, brain fog, and aches and pains, it may be time to have your doctor run tests. Sometimes our daily battles can be chalked up to vitamin deficiencies. Your doctor can prescribe supplements that may help naturally boost your energy levels and thus your job performance.
5. Be Mindful of Caffeine Consumption
As a mason, you need a lot of energy to perform your best. You may typically start your day early and are constantly on your feet. Therefore, healthy foods and an adequate amount of rest can best support your energy levels, but what if you still need more?
For many of us, our mornings aren’t complete without a cup of coffee or an energy drink to get us going. A survey conducted by the Huffpost found that 49% of coffee drinkers would instead give up their cell phone for a month than go without coffee. But how much caffeine is too much? The Mayo Clinic suggests that most healthy adults can consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day. That’s about four cups of coffee or two energy drinks.
Consuming more than the daily recommended amount of caffeine can lead to headaches, insomnia, irritability, and crashes. It may be safe for you to make caffeine a part of your daily routine, but be mindful of how much you’re consuming. If you find that you’re overindulging, consider making a plan to slowly cut back and make it a priority to get more sleep.