If you can’t stand the heat

Monica Or, columnist and Hospitality Consultant at Star Quality Hospitality Consultancy discusses how stress in the workplace can lead to mental health issues..

I am sure you have heard the expression ‘If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.’ A phrase that has been reported to be originally coined by US President Harry Truman. In other words, when the pressure is too much you need to leave and remove yourself from the situation.

As we all know the hospitality industry has an unfortunate reputation for long hours and low pay, which is not as true these days as it may have been in the past. It is conditions such as this that can lead to stress in the workplace, although employers are much more aware of this and do look after their employees to a much better standard these days.

This week is National Mental Health Awareness week in the UK and it is important to highlight how to recognise the signs of stress and how to combat this. A bit of stress is normal in everyday life, it is when you get overwhelmed with the pressures and you feel you are physically and emotionally crushed, that it can lead to mental health issues.

Stress will show itself up in three main ways:
– Feelings – irritable, aggressive, impatient, unable to switch off
– Behaviour – can’t make decisions, constant worrying, unable to concentrate, eating too much or too little, smoking, drinking, being tearful
– Physically – muscle tension, sore eyes, sleeplessness, tiredness, headaches, chest pains, high blood pressure, indigestion, breathing problems

The above are just some of the signs. The key is to listen to your body – if you are not feeling 100% this is your body telling you to slow down.

Tips on how to combat the signs of stress:
– Take regular breaks – go outside for some fresh air, walk around the block, change the environment you are in.
– Regular exercise – this should be part of your routine, to get your body moving and release the endorphins.
– Talk – have a chat with your colleagues or friends about how you are feeling and share any anxiety you may have.
– Sleep – getting regular 7-8 hours sleep will help your body to heal. Put your phone on ‘do no disturb’ so your sleep is not interrupted.
– Take up a hobby – this downtime will let you do something you enjoy and helps to focus your mind.

Putting these steps in to a regular routine will help you to live a more balanced lifestyle. If you feel you do not have enough hours in the day, you need to relook at your work schedule and look at where you could be delegating tasks out to others.

If you still feel you need help with your situation, then organisations such as Hospitality Action are there to help. They have a fantastic Employee Assistant Programme which many hospitality employers subscribe to. They also offer Mental Health Awareness training and Stress Management.

Your health and well being is the most important aspect of your life. There will always be work to do, but there is only one you. Look after yourself.

About Monica Or: As the founder of Star Quality Hospitality Consultancy, Monica specialises in working operationally with the owner/managers of independent hotels and restaurants focusing on their business structure and service delivery. She is the Amazon Best Selling author of ‘Star Quality Hospitality – The Key to a Successful Hospitality Business’ and ‘Star Quality Experience – The Hotelier’s Guide to Creating Memorable Guest Journeys’.

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