It isn’t a big secret that working in hospitality can get stressful. Of course, it can also be rewarding and incredibly fulfilling – but everyone in hospitality will have a day here and there when things get a little overwhelming.
For those working the floor – that is, the waiters, bar staff, glassies, hosts, and anyone else in a customer-facing role – those stress levels can get a little risky.
While it’s important to have the tools and knowledge available to make sure you’re taking care of yourself on shift, it’s on your days off that you can really take the time to reboot and de-stress.
The term ‘self-care’ is thrown around a lot, but pinning down what that actually means can be a little confusing. So, we’ve put together six tips that relate directly to you – yes, you! – in the hospitality industry.
1. Listen to your body
You’ve worked eight shifts in a row, you might have had a few hours sleep between each one, and your body is crying out for a rest. So, what do you do?
The answer is definitely not pick up another shift! It can be difficult to listen to what your body is telling you when you work in a fast-paced industry and are always on the go. So, whenever you feel yourself reaching that crescendo moment, take a minute to listen to your body. What does it need?
It could be any combination of things: rest, a meal that isn’t from the pub menu, some time out in the sun, some gentle exercise.
2. Know your (work) limits
Knowing and establishing what your limits are when it comes to your job is an incredibly important part of looking after yourself physically and mentally.
It’s easy to overwork yourself in the hospitality industry: there’s usually always extra work available, and the temptation of a few more dollars in your bank account can be a bigger pull than looking after yourself.
It can also be easy to get caught up in work politics when teams are often tight-knit, or to take on work for staff if you are in a managerial position. Make sure you aren’t taking on too much, and do a bit of self-reflection to make sure you know what your limits are when it comes to the workplace.
3. Set boundaries
Now that you know your limits, set your boundaries. This can be tough for some people, particularly if you’ve only recently entered the industry or started a particular job.
It’s important to know what your rights are within your role, and explain to your manager or boss what works for you in terms of a number of shifts or hours per week, and calls outside of work hours.
When it comes to work politics or dealing with staff as a manager, make sure you set clear boundaries and nip things in the bud early: there’s no need for drama! Remember that although you may love or be attached to your job, it isn’t your entire life – and your health comes first.
4. Schedule in ‘you’ time
We know, it sounds a little bit silly. But scheduling in time where you are completely alone – not at work, with friends or family, or even with a partner – is vital to your mental and physical health.
Being alone gives you the space to reboot and unwind, as well as think through problems or ideas in an impartial space. It also means you get some time to do the things you might not otherwise prioritise: exercise, hobbies, taking yourself out for a nice brunch. It may sound a bit over the top to actually schedule it in, but think about it: would you really take time out for yourself otherwise?
5. Gather your people
As important as alone time is, so is creating your own little community and support network, and being able to lean on them if you need to.
You probably already have a bunch of people around you: friends, family, partners. For many people, a support network exists to provide fun, social interaction, and company, as well as emotional support and love. Make sure you also do a bit of a reality check – who are you surrounding yourself with? Do you need to reach out to new people? And, importantly: do you need to bring some professionals in on your network?
Remember that there is no shame in asking for help: whether it’s making an appointment with a psychologist, or finally booking in with a physio to get your back sorted.
6. Remember that nature is out there
Working in hospitality generally means you are inside a little too much. Particularly for those who work days, it can be easy to forget what that large, beaming light in the sky is!
Simply spending some time outside can drastically reduce your stress levels and improve your brain function, concentration, mental health, and general wellbeing. So throw on a pair of running shorts, put together a picnic, head for the beach, or take your dog to your local park. Sit down somewhere and give yourself a moment to take it all in.
Self care will look different for every person. For some people, it looks like Netflix on the couch and a nice glass of wine, for others it looks like a two hour yoga session in the sun, and for some it looks like drinks with friends.
Take some time out to discover what works best for you, and don’t forget to schedule in self-care activities and time for yourself.