SevenFifty Daily has compiled a very useful guide for hospitality and drinks industry professionals to maintain good mental health during the coronavirus crisis.
While the food and drinks industry is probably the worst hit sector of all when it comes to the negative effects of the lockdown, the advice provided by industry publication SevenFifty Daily would be useful for anyone trying to stay well and healthy in the face of the world’s biggest health crisis for decades.
These are extremely challenging times, especially for hospitality workers. Many have lost their jobs and those who work behind bars may be the last of all to return to work. The problem is all the uncertainty.
Hospitality workers, in general, face more challenging working conditions that can lead to negative effects on their mental health, but equally the sudden loss of stability and indeed their livelihood can present challenges to everyone.
The article divides a good mental health strategy into several salient points.
Accept the loss of direction
In order to thrive in the tough world of hospitality, you have to be driven, you have to endure conditions that others wouldn’t and you have to care deeply about it. That means that hospitality workers can often put so much of themselves into their work that there are fewer other outlets for their passion and creativity and others. However, now is not the time to over-function and push yourself but rather to relax and reflect and most importantly to accept the uncertainty of our new reality.
Create a routine
True for everyone, but especially hospitality workers. The long hours of working in a bar or restaurant are usually filled with routine – the cigarette break, the coffee or juice before work, the drink after work, not to mention the scheduled repetition of tasks needed to keep the show on the road. By creating a new routine now you can help balance the uncertainty. Colleen Vincent, the New York-based director of community for the James Beard Foundation, suggests writing down a list of things to do for the day—whether it’s five items or one—in order to have a tangible record of things accomplished.
Assess how you’re feeling—and what you’re reading
There’s too much information and disinformati0on out there so as you feed your body with the right nutriti0on, you should also feed your mind. Just as you don’t eat all day, neither should you consume media all day either, it will only increase your sense of powerlessness.
Battling Isolation and Loneliness
Find your community
When you are physically distant from your people, it’s more important to connect with them in any way you can. It can get busy and intense on lockdown, but you need to reach out to your community in any way possible. It’s these connections that will provide the support to get through the current situation.
Dr. Vaile Wright, a clinical psychologist and the director of clinical research and quality for the American Psychological Association says, “What stops you from reaching out is your own guilt—not wanting to be a burden,” she says. “Asking for help is hard.”
Support your team
Managers lead, and in times like these we all look to leaders to do just that. That means constant communication with your team, whether you have the answers or not, update them with what you are doing to find the answers. Bad managers will be bad managers in times of crisis, but good managers can be real heroes.
“How you treat your people every single day that you’re with them creates an environment for how they can go on about their lives,” Paul Grieco, the owner of Terroir in Manhattan told SevenFifty Daily. “The decisions I make on a daily basis prioritize them as number one. I think my staff had an impression that I was going to take care of them in some way.”
Make a list of resources
Many hospitality workers’ health insurance has evaporated with their jobs, many didn’t have it to begin with but there are free resources for those who need it. So make a list and use them if you feel you need to.
Organizations like I Got Your Back, a California-based mental health peer support group with a crisis support hotline, and Chefs With Issues, can be invaluable at this time.
Managing Substance Abuse
Double down on sobriety
Don’t be tempted to find solace from the nightmare in drinking. Alcohol sales have soared during the coronavirus crisis, but as hospitality workers are often faced with the results of that on a near-daily basis, they should be extra careful about drinking on lockdown.
There are free resources for those who may be struggling with substance abuse issues such as Ben’s Friends.
Avoid slipping into addiction
It can be tempting to see everyone overdoing it during lockdown and think it’s ok, but “In isolation, what was once blowing off steam becomes a maladaptive coping skill,” Vincent said in a March 31 James Beard Foundation webinar.
Focus on physical health
There’s sure to be a massive gaping hole in your existence right now so try and channel the energy into something good. Look after your physical health as much as you can. Exercising and eating well are two of the most effective safeguards to your wellness right now.
Find new purpose
We forget that people choose the hospitality industry because they feel a need to serve, when that is removed, we need to find a new purpose and a new way to serve. It could be for family, friends, neighbours, community or the nation, but it’s a basic need in hospitality workers that shouldn’t be ignored.
Whatever stress or anxiety it's important to remember that you are not going through this alone. There are millions experiencing the same feelings you are. Reach out to one of the above services, or to anyone if you feel you need help. Remember that this will pass and in the near future, you'll look back on this period as one of change and reflection, but not a time that defined you or your profession.
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