January 2nd 2020
10 tips to manage your anxiety when you work in hospitality
by Jess Green
Hospitality is a fast-paced industry to work in, that often includes long and irregular working hours. Early mornings, late finishes and high-pressure situations no doubt make up an exciting and flexible environment to work in, but what happens when it begins to take its toll on your mental health?
Anxiety is more common than you may think. The most recent Psychiatric Morbidity Survey indicated that there are 6 million people in the UK with a common mental health problem, and 3 million are those dealing with an anxiety disorder. There are many contributing factors to anxiety, such as chemical imbalances in the brain, physical health factors and of course, the big one, stress.
Anxiety is a normal emotion, and whilst you should always consider seeking medical and therapeutic care, there are lots of self-help methods out there to help you overcome your anxiety and control it, especially when juggling a job in hospitality.
Check out some of our most helpful steps below:
We all know that long breaks are often unheard of in hospitality, especially in busy periods – yet it is important that you take small breaks where possible. Go and make yourself a drink, take a short walk and admire some scenery, or simply sit down for 5 minutes to recharge.
If you are feeling particularly anxious on a shift, speaking to a trusted co-worker or your manager may help. Whilst the goal isn’t to have the person “fix” your problems, it can be a great opportunity to offload, and airing your concerns can help you see them more clearly and they may be able to offer additional support in the workplace.
If you work on a casual basis, you may feel as though you have to sign up for and work as many shifts as possible - but remember to focus on what's manageable first. Over-committing yourself can have a big impact on your overall anxiety levels. Understand when to say no, when to cut down on tempting but long shifts and let go of the desire to control everything.
Both literally and metaphorically! It may seem obvious, but breathing is one of the most important exercises to consider when your anxiety gets the better of you at work. Even on hectic shifts, take a minute to practice simple breathing exercises. And remember, just breathe, nothing is ever worth you getting yourself into a panic over.
Long shifts that require you to be energetic and on your feet for 8+ hours often lead to the need for caffeine to keep you going. However caffeine is a stimulant which can be bad news for someone with anxiety. It stimulates your "fight or flight" response, which can make anxiety worse and can even trigger an anxiety attack. As with the symptoms of anxiety, one too many cups of coffee may leave you feeling nervous or moody, which would not go down well in hospitality! Instead, opt for water or a calming green tea.
Hospitality jobs often mean long shifts and late finishes, but it is vital that you get enough sleep (at least 7-8 hours a night) before beginning another shift. Being well-rested will make managing your emotions and coping with work stresses much easier. Try limiting your screen time before going to sleep, have a hot shower, read or do some light yoga before bed to decrease stimulation.
You know that you're going to be on your feet a lot in hospitality, especially if you work in Front of House. But do take time outside of work to maintain an exercise routine for yourself. Exercise produces endorphins that act as natural mood-boosters and help promote sleep, which in turn reduces stress! It's also a fantastic way to increase your self-esteem, self-control and the ability to rise to a challenge.
Healthy eating is not about depriving yourself of food you love but about fueling yourself with foods that make you feel great, increase your energy levels and stabilize your mood. Your diet can have a huge effect on your mood, with processed meals and sugary snacks all being linked to higher rates of depression, stress and anxiety. Mealtime doesn't have to get complicated - simply opt for small and frequent meals full of nutrients like protein and fiber and cut back on the ready meals!
It's super important to maintain a life outside of work, especially when hospitality often requires you to work weekends as well as unsociable hours. Reviving an old hobby or maintaining one is a great way of fitting in time for yourself in the chaos of it all. Did you paint at school? Do you love to sew? Maybe you enjoy writing or fixing cars? Investing in a hobby can help you to handle stressful periods a lot better and remind you to relax.
Relationships matter, especially during stressful times! Always try to make time to see close friends and family when you're not working no matter how tired you feel - because you still need a social life. It's one of the best ways to alleviate life pressure and simply enjoy being in the moment for a while.
Remember, whilst anxiety can often feel overwhelming, try to see it as an opportunity to seize control and grow in both a professional and personal way. Facing your anxiety at work head on by practicing any or all of the steps above will guarantee that you will be able to tackle any challenge thrown your way, no matter how big or small, in the workplace or in life!
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