Ask any experienced FIFO worker and they’ll tell you – Christmas away from loved ones is tough. The gap between site and home suddenly seems so much greater at Christmas, especially when there are small children involved.
But the mining show must go on.
Prepping for the emotional challenges of the festive season can help soften that sense of distance and preserve your own wellbeing. So, whether it’s your first or your twenty-first FIFO Christmas, plan to make it a good one. Here’s how.
Don’t opt out.
Just because you’ll be absent for the festivities doesn’t mean you can’t be part of them. Organise presents now. On Christmas morning, these gifts will connect you with your family and friends, especially if you include a special, thoughtful message.
Dangle a carrot (not for Rudolph!).
Before you fly out, arrange a date for a second Christmas to be celebrated on your return – the FIFO Festivities. This will give you, and your loved ones, something to look forward to on your return. It needn’t be a re-run of the 25th and it might even become a new family tradition.
Pack something special, food or drink, that will help to make this trip a little different. Invite loved ones to write you a message and promise you won’t open it until Christmas Day (maybe during your ZOOM catch up). They will enjoy the anticipation as much as you.
Avoid the glums.
Try to avoid negativity – in reality and in your head. Try to keep your ‘self-talk’ positive. Be appreciative of what you do have, not just what you are missing; after all, you have a job and your health. If fellow workers are moaning, and you are unable to distract them from their complaints, give them a wide berth so they don’t bring you down too.
Make the most of the technology – but don’t let it ruin the day.
The capacity to keep connected is a real gift at times like this. Seeing family and friends on Christmas Day, sending love, watching kids open their presents means you can be as close as possible whilst miles away. Try to stay upbeat when you make contact with loved ones on the day. Saying how much you miss them is fine but focus on sharing in their happiness and excitement too. After the Zoom/FaceTime session, aim to switch off. Following every Tweet and post during the day can make you feel more removed than ever.
Keep up the spirit of Christmas but don’t rely on spirits.
Drowning your sorrows with grog is guaranteed to make you feel sadder not happier, so keep an eye on the celebratory drinks. Try to make the on-site festivities a distraction. Organising an activity – something physical or Christmas trivia – will benefit you as much as your workmates.
Finally, remind yourself that you are not alone but in the same boat as all those other essential workers around the world, and Christmas, after all, is only one day.