Managing Loneliness and Working Away From Home
In this third episode, we welcome Tony Steel, Operations Director at Band of Builders and Jonathon Moorhouse, Head of Business from HIES. The podcast explores loneliness, how much of a problem it is; strategies to manage loneliness and working away from home; the downside of using drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms, and signposting to hubs that are there to help.
What is loneliness?
Jonathon kicks off the podcast by posing the question: what is loneliness? He comments that it’s a misconception that loneliness is only something that you feel when you are on your own. You can be with people or a group and still feel lonely. Sometimes work contracts can last weeks away at a time and of course, we all miss our families when we’re away from them.
Tony adds that no matter how well you off you are in terms of friends and family, there are always going to be situations where you are actually going to go through loneliness and really feel it.
Tony adds that there are always going to be situations where you feel lonely, regardless of how much you are surrounded by friends and family. When you recognise this, it can become clearer to accept that there are strategies that you can put in place, even when you’re working away from home. Sometimes just even having the awareness that you’re getting sucked into unhealthy lifestyles – a couple of drinks at the bar every evening – can help prevent really bad habits developing that are detrimental to mental health. The topic of drugs and alcohol is probably one of the most difficult to get people to admit to. Avoidance and shying away usually means the loneliness, often mixed with feelings of guilt, builds to become overwhelming.
This is backed up by stark statistics: in 2021, 507 constructions workers took their own lives, the equivalent to two workers every day*.
Help is at hand
The podcast also explores good ways of coping with loneliness. If you are working away for particularly longer periods of time there are options out there like local clubs, or some sort of sport. In many instances, physical exercise has an immediate and really positive effect on your mental health. Thirty minutes of sport a week is the same dopamine release as small levels of anti-depressants. Pack your trainers, have a walk, run, play golf, explore new surroundings, run or use a hotel gym where possible. Fresh air is magical.
Seek support from dedicated groups like Band of Builders and others listed in the show notes. Jonathon shared that he personally reached out to Andy’s Man Club when his brother took his own life and commented: One of Andy Man’s Club advisors got me through one of the toughest times of my life.
Whether it’s through organisations, charities, friends or colleagues, the first step is be open and share your feelings of loneliness. We can all step in too and play our role by getting in touch with people to see how they’re doing. Checking in with your colleagues who are working remotely can really change the course of their day.
Maybe ask yourself, who should you be checking in with?
Equally, if you are reading this and struggling now, regardless of whether you’re a HIES member or not, we urge you to reach out for confidential 24/7 support by texting HARDHAT on 85258.”
The series running throughout Autumn coincides with Suicide Prevention Month during September and Depression and Mental Health Awareness month in October, and is available here: