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Run the dishwasher TWICE

Run the dishwasher twice

I’ve been a passionate advocatefor supportingmental health in hospitalityfor a few years now. In particular, about how the industry’s often long, demanding and stressful hours can lead to addiction, anxiety and depression. Then about what we, as catering and hospitality business owners and managers, can do to mitigate these issues and support our staff who may be experiencing them.

Changing attitudes

Mental health can still be a highly sensitive subject, and one which has to be approached and dealt with carefully.  It’s therefore encouraging to see an increasing level of openness and frankness in the media and on-line. Celebrities, even Royalty, are coming forward to discuss their personal struggles, normalising this once taboo subject.

As a Co-Founding Trustee of the Hospitality Health charity, I’m undergoing training in how best to support this wonderful initiative, as well as my own staff and clients who may be in need of help. In among the difficult issues with alcohol, drugs and gambling, I often hear the same less obvious problems. Lack of motivation and low/no energy. Exclamations of “I just can’t get through the day!” and “I can never seem to get everything done!”.

In addition, recent quarantine impositions and restrictions are exacerbating feelings of not wanting to get out of bed or, you know, just life.

Run the dishwasher twice

I was contemplating this before my latest training session, and wondering how counsellors approach and handle these complex situations. And frankly, how the hell would I!?  Just at that moment, a post popped up on my feed – one that had rightly gone viral.

It was about a young mother who was struggling with anxiety and depression. Speaking to her therapist, she was unable to articulate how she was feeling and why. Undeterred, he persevered and the conversation went something like this:

~ “What is really getting you down? What is it that is causing you to feel anxious? When you get home after this session. what one thing will still really be bothering you?”

The woman tried hard to think of something deep and meaningful, but instead said:

~ “This is going to sound utterly ridiculous, but honestly? It’s the dishes. They’re stacking up and the more there are the less I feel able to deal with them. Our dishwasher is a pile of rubbish and I have to rinse them all first. And I simply don’t have the energy or inclination to do that.”

And what did the therapist say? Did he spurt psychobabble? Quote Freud? Advise gardening followed by an hour of meditation?


His advice was pure genius… “Run the dishwasher twice.” In four simple words, he demonstrated that he understood her plight. That he was sympathetic. And he even came up with a manageable solution.

However, the woman remonstrated. “Run the dishwasher twice? I can’t do that! Everyone knows you can’t do that!”.

Why not?

Why not indeed? So, she went home and stacked all the dirty plates into the dishwasher. As expected, the first cycle didn’t do the job, but the second one did. And just like that – no more piles of dishes staring at her every time she went past. One less thing to do. A little weight had been lifted off her shoulders.

This is such a great story and one that applies to us all. Life can get tough and complicated and stressful. So let’s all give ourselves a break. Just do what it takes to get through the day. Then tomorrow will be slightly easier.

I promise.

For additional support and information

  • Hospitality Health
  • Pilot Light
  • Mental Health UK
  • Mind
  • MentalHealth Gov

Andrew D Scott MIH

Victus Consultancy

Heaven Scent Coffee Shop

Trustee of Hospitality Health


16h April 2021