The Catering Industry = Fulfilment & Stress in one job.
But how do you cope and ‘return to you’ after a super busy day and week?
Which ever way you view a career in the catering and hospitality industry, it is incredibly rewarding. It can unleash the artist in every chef, evolve a life long career, offer diversity, more jobs that there are applicants, you can own your own business quite easily, you can be educated to degree level, and some lucky people even become TV stars.
The one common factor, for everyone involved, is it is very hard work both mentally and physically. Often, for the business owner, it can feel like an 8 day week commitment, with many unsociable hours.
When I was a chef in Hotels in the late 70’s and most of the 80’s, we called that era ‘Our Vietnam Years’. It felt like a tour of duty, in which we had to be switched on all the time and deliver very high standards, whilst on the front line. In those days, the work regime was split shifts and nothing else. At least we knew where we stood I suppose.
Working 2 million hours a week, been on top of your game, learning what felt like a new fashionable food trend every week did take its toll. In my team, there was capacity overload. There is no way around this. Hard physical and emotional demanding work in any industry will have an effect on individuals.
Thankfully, today, employers have recognised that working very long days over a very long week has an impact on staff performance. Shifts are managed more sensitively and are mindful of home and well-being requirements of staff. The pay off is an increased sense of commitment, improved safety, reduced accident rate, loyalty, less desire to look elsewhere and an improved work life balance. In other words, a great platform to build and enjoy a very good catering career.
However, there are still demanding days, long hours on your feet, hot environments and all the while keeping a smile on your face and confidently showing your guests you’re as fresh and alert like you’ve just got out of bed!
Its very important to have a recovery plan which works for you that removes the days stress and fatigue. I worked with many chefs who used to go fishing, either fresh water or sea fishing if it was close by. It was an experience which completely disengaged them from ‘yesterday, last night or the 4 weddings you have this coming Saturday’.
This blog isn’t about angling per se, but Angling is recognised for its pastoral and calming effect. There is much research on how to de-stress and re set your mind. Once home, you have to engage with spouse, kids. bills, DIY etc, so its very important you create a past-time or interest just for yourself or you could be imprisoned in a 24/7 regime rather than have a work life balance.
The following methods can be considered to reduce stress, raise your ability to handle stress and improve your overall health.
Exercise. Is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress. It might seem contradictory, but putting physical stress on your body through exercise can relieve mental stress. The benefits are strongest when you exercise regularly. People who exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety than those who don’t exercise.
There are a few reasons behind this:
- Stress hormones:Exercise lowers your body’s stress hormones — such as cortisol — in the long run. It also helps release endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers.
- Sleep:Exercise can also improve sleep quality, which can be negatively affected by stress and anxiety.
- Confidence:When you exercise regularly, you may feel more competent and confident in your body, which in turn promotes mental well being.
Try to find a type of exercise or activity you enjoy, such as walking, dancing, rock climbing or yoga. Activities such as walking or jogging, that involve repetitive movements of large muscle groups can be particularly stress relieving.
Regular exercise can help lower stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins and improving your sleep and self-image.
Caffiene is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, chocolate and energy drinks. High doses can increase anxiety.
People have different thresholds for how much caffeine they can tolerate. If you notice that caffeine makes you jittery or anxious, consider cutting back. Although many studies show that coffee can be healthy in moderation, it’s not for everyone. In general, five or fewer cups per day is considered a moderate amount.
High quantities of caffeine can increase stress and anxiety. However, people’s sensitivity to caffeine can vary greatly.
Time with Family and Friends Social support from friends and family can help you get through stressful times.
Being part of a friend network gives you a sense of belonging and self-worth, which can help you in tough times. One study found that for women in particular, spending time with friends and children helps release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever. This effect is called “tend and befriend,” and is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response.
Keep in mind that both men and women benefit from friendship. Another study found that men and women with the fewest social connections were more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.
Having strong social ties may help you get through stressful times and lower your risk of anxiety.
Learn to say No – Not all causes of stress are within your control, but some are.
Take control over the parts of your life that you can change and are causing you stress. One way to do this may be to say “no” or handle others people’s expectations more often.
This is especially true if you find yourself taking on more than you can handle, as juggling many responsibilities can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Being selective about what you take on — and saying no to things that will unnecessarily add to your load — can reduce your stress levels. Try not to take on more than you can handle. Saying no is one way to control your stress.
Avoid Procrastination – Another way to take control of your stress is to stay on top of your priorities and stop procrastinating. Procrastination can lead you to act reactively, leaving you scrambling to catch up. This can cause stress, which negatively affects your health and sleep quality.
Get in the habit of making a to-do list organized by priority. Give yourself realistic deadlines and work your way down the list. Work on the things that need to get done today and give yourself chunks of uninterrupted time, as switching between tasks or multitasking can be stressful itself.
Prioriotise what needs to get done and make time for it. Staying on top of your to-do list can help ward off procrastination-related stress.
Mindfulness describes practices that anchor you to the present moment.
It can help combat the anxiety-inducing effects of negative thinking. There are several methods for increasing mindfulness, including mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, yoga and meditation.
A recent study in college students suggested that mindfulness may help increase self-esteem, which in turn lessens symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Mindfulness practices can help lower symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Listen to Music can have a very relaxing effect on the body.
Slow-paced instrumental music can induce the relaxation response by helping lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as stress hormones.
Some types of classical, Celtic, Native American and Indian music can be particularly soothing, but simply listening to the music you enjoy is effective too. Nature sounds can also be very calming. This is why they’re often incorporated into relaxation and meditation music.
Listening to music you like can be a good way to relieve stress.
Deep Breathing – Mental stress activates your sympathetic nervous system, signalling your body to go into “fight-or-flight” mode.
During this reaction, stress hormones are released and you experience physical symptoms such as a faster heartbeat, quicker breathing and constricted blood vessels. Deep breathing exercises can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation response.
There are several types of deep breathing exercises, including diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing and paced respiration.
The goal of deep breathing is to focus your awareness on your breath, making it slower and deeper. When you breathe in deeply through your nose, your lungs fully expand and your belly rises. This helps slow your heart rate, allowing you to feel more peaceful.
Deep breathing activates the relaxation response. Multiple methods can help you learn how to breathe deeply.
The benefits of a pet – Having a pet may help reduce stress and improve your mood. There is something about having unconditional love returned to calm the system down.
Interacting with pets may help release oxytocin, a brain chemical that promotes a positive mood.
Having a pet may also help relieve stress by giving you purpose, keeping you active and providing companionship — all qualities that help reduce anxiety.
Spending time with your pet is a relaxing, enjoyable way to reduce stress.
In conclusion, what ever method you choose to reduce or manage the stress you experience, any and all of the above will help. Sitting on a river bank fishing, you get to experience much of the above, I know many chefs who build model planes, ships etc, have a strong exercise ethic, play in a band, write blogs, anything to allow you to step off the bus for a while and remind yourself to be you.
I personally play golf, do ballroom dancing, I rowed, have dogs and I love gardening. All of which greatly helped me to get through my Vietnam Years. My mates call me ‘Garden Ramsey’, such is my desire to grow and cook my own fruit and vegetables…..
What is your preferred form of relaxation? Let me know and I’ll include in this blog firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading.