Keeping healthy in body and mind is something that we should all be striving for. Working in any industry comes with its stresses but hospitality is a notoriously stressful one since dealing with people every day comes with an unpredictable edge.
Drawing of years of experience in the field and being industry experts, read on to discover our top five ways on how you can prioritise your mental health on your hospitality shift.
Working in hospitality means working in an environment of people from all different cultures, religions, and temperaments. Unlike working as an accountant, for example, where calculated formulas result in measurable and predictable results, hospitality is the exact opposite. This unpredictability is what keeps the industry so fast-paced and ever-changing which keeps it exciting. With the excitement, however, often comes high levels of stress. Although things are changing, stress levels are still amongst the highest in the hospitality industry.
Here are our top five tips to keep mentally healthy while on your hospitality shift.
1. Ensure a good night’s sleep beforehand
It can be tempting to stay out with your friends who don’t have to work early on a Saturday or finishing your latest Netflix binge. But trust us when we say, it’s not worth it! Lack of sleep strongly affects your mental health so ensuring that you have a healthy 7-9 hour sleep before your shift will keep you feeling fresh and energised on shift.
2. Don’t overwork yourself
Secondly, ensuring that you're not overworking plays a huge role in your mental health. Ensure that you give yourself time off. At the end of the day, taking that extra shift after seven days of working straight won't be worth taking when you're mentally and physically exhausted.
Your employer should understand your health needs surrounding work. As such, turning down an additional shift shouldn't jeopardise your job. On the contrary, your employer should value your commitment to your health and work. Ultimately, you'll be a better worker when you're well-rested. Not the case? Maybe it's time to switch employers.
3. Make sure you take your breaks
There’s a reason why those trusty breaks are a legally-bound part of your working rights. Removing yourself from your task at hand will help in keeping you healthy on shift and for the rest of your day.
4. If you can, get outside!
Speaking of taking your breaks, we highly recommend taking them outside. Getting outside, even for a short period of time, does great things for your mental health. From restoring your mental energy to relieving stress, boosting your immune system, and improving your short-term memory, there are really no downsides to taking a break and reconnecting to nature.
5. Make an effort to socialise with your coworkers
Since working in hospitality often means irregular hours, working evenings and weekends, it can be difficult to socially connect given your working hours alone. While most other industries have consistent hours, working in the hospitality industry can be alienating when it comes to socialising outside of work.
So how can you actively deal with that? Make a point to become friends with your coworkers. They will undoubtedly understand your irregular working schedule and can be your best support system, acting as your second family. Plus, you already have common ground to connect with. Social interaction and personal relationship are crucial for your mental and physical health. Lack of social interactions is damaging to mental health. The emotional support provided by social connections helps to diminish stress and cultivate a sense of support and purpose in your life.
Read on to learn more about the mental health statistics in Australia and around the globe, along with supportive organisations and what you can do to help open up the conversation around mental health in the hospitality industry.
Mental Health Statistics
Having a social connection at work will also nurture an environment for support and open communication. Having someone that you can speak to if you’re struggling opens up the conversation surrounding mental health, squashing the stigma surrounding it. 7.3 million - that’s 45% of the Australian population, aged 15-85 have personally experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime. It may be clichéd to say but with numbers like that, you truly aren't alone.
If you're struggling at work or otherwise, it's important to reach out and talk about it. Based on the stats alone, it's likely that whoever you open up to has either struggled with mental illness themselves or knows someone close to them who has.
Interested in Learning More?
There are numerous organisations right here in Australia that are supporting mental health awareness in the hospitality industry.
Historically, the hospitality industry has experienced a culture where you're expected to push on regardless of the crazy hours and high-stress environments. Today, things are changing. Award-winning chef and mental health advocate Mal Meiers has founded Food For Thought, a series of charity dinners designed to spark the conversation around mental health in the hospitality industry. The funds raised go towards Lifeline and RUOK.
Opening up the conversation around mental health, staying connected and having meaningful dialogue is something we can all do.
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Drawing on 12 years of hospitality experience and coming from a Communications background, I am passionate about all things hospitality. From industry insight and experience, I join BENCHMARQUE in the effort to inspire 100,000 people to commence and grow their professional hospitality careers by year 2020.