Work-related stress exists in every field. The Restaurant Industry is no different. There is a very famous saying in the restaurant space - "If you can not take the heat, get out of the kitchen". The stress level for all members of the restaurant staff is usually quite high. You would never hear any member of the restaurant staff say - "Stress? What is that! I don't get stressed at work at all!".
Every staff member has something to stress over to ensure smooth operations, and this has been accepted as a way of life, almost a work hazard some would say. If this stress is not addressed in the right fashion, it can lead to serious mental health issues, both personally and professionally.
Stress from your professional life often seeps into your personal life, and before you know it, your life is upside down, and this may lead to depression, or worse, it can lead to substance abuse just to get on with life. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, employees in the restaurant and hospitality industry have been ranked highest among other professions for risk against substance abuse.
So what can we do to ensure your mental sanity is in check? Let's look at 7 simple tips which can help you beat the stress in your restaurant job.
1) Create a collaborative and supportive culture:
This is something that comes from higher management. It could be the restaurant owner, or restaurant or kitchen manager. The point is that they are responsible for creating a collaborative and supportive culture in the team. How can one ensure a collaborative culture? Well start with small steps, ensure your team communicates regularly, whether it's positive or negative feedback, everyone should be encouraged to communicate with each other in a collaborative and supportive manner. At the end of the day, the culture you build defines the kind of employees you will attract.
2) Promote mental health conversations:
Mental health is NOT a taboo subject. It's high time people realize this and understand the importance of addressing mental health issues in a workplace without any stigma. Check on your restaurant staff from time to time on how they are doing, set up 1:1 conversations, check if something is bothering them and if you could do something to help. This will create an environment where your staff will feel more comfortable speaking about it even with their peers.
3) Rejuvenate and connect with your family and friends regularly:
No matter which industry you are in, it is very important to take a break and connect with your loved ones. The restaurant industry is no different. Take some time out during the day and speak to your family if you are away from home, if you are lucky enough to have your family with you, set some time to spend some quality time with them. This will not only reduce work stress but will also keep you grounded and remind you of where you come from and what your goals are. Take some time out during your off days and spend time with your friends. This helps you maintain your sanity.
4) Try and avoid tobacco or caffeine:
What is your first reaction when you are stressed? Is it lighting up a cigarette or making a quick hot cuppa? Well, maybe you do not realize this immediately, but this also adversely affects your stress levels. And you may feel it's helping, but on the contrary, it's only making it worse. Try and avoid caffeine and tobacco during your workdays as much as you can. Go ahead and enjoy a hot cuppa in the evening, but keep it to one cup a day. Start slow, and you should be able to even do without that one cup in a few days.
5) Avoid regular late-night parties and post-work alcohol consumption:
You have had a super stressful day at the restaurant, what is your immediate reaction? Is it to go grab a couple of drinks with your colleagues or friends? This may be helpful if done once in a while. But if it becomes a habit or a practice, you are only ruining it for yourself even more. Your mental health will only deteriorate if you are dependent on such vices. Go ahead and enjoy an occasional drink, but do not make it a habit. Do you really want to be hungover at work?
6) Find something you love to do:
Get a hobby! Is there something you enjoy doing? Learning to play a musical instrument, get back to drawing, or maybe concentrate on your physical fitness? Getting a hobby that you can focus your energy on while you are not working in the restaurant can be super beneficial for your mental health.
7) Be more organized and structured at work:
When does work get stressful? When does work get chaotic? The answers to both these questions are - work gets more stressful or chaotic when there is a lack of structure, being unorganized, or working with broken processes. For any business to succeed, it is of utmost importance to ensure your staff and employees have a robust process to follow, maintain a structure while working, and are well organized to make things seamless. Invest in tools, resources and software that can help your staff work better, and in a more organized manner. This not only improves their productivity and reduces stress at work, but also translates to profitability for the business.
Follow these simple steps and try to build a work culture that promotes mental health, and keep a check on your staff's sanity. Building a stress-free organization is not easy, and not an overnight process, it will take time, but if you put in the right effort, you can greatly reduce your staff's stress in your restaurant. And if you are an employee of a restaurant, it is your responsibility to bring this conversation up and promote this culture. The restaurant industry will never be stress-free, but you can work on reducing it and more importantly, learning how to deal with that stress healthily.