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“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

I am sure you have heard that phrase often before.

Over four in five (85%) hospitality professionals have reported symptoms of poor mental health over the past year, a study has revealed.

The recent report from workforce management solutions company Planday, entitled the Biggest Shift: How to improve retention hospitality, surveyed over 1,600 staff based in the hospitality sector in January this year.

Hospitality workers said the symptoms of poor mental health, such as disturbed sleep (47%), anxiety (44%) and depression (31%), became more pronounced with irregular shift patterns (52%) or uncertain work shifts (54%). The report raised concerns that only a quarter of workers have access to mental health services through their job.

Almost a third (29%) of hospitality professionals stressed the importance of better work/life balance, while a quarter (24%) said they wanted better managerial support on progression and clearer communication on allocated shifts.

How often do you think about self-care? It can be difficult in a world that values hard work and a variety of shifts. While it’s true that sometimes pushing ourselves can be a good for us, we need to be aware of our own limitations, and often aim for a compromise.

As an industry, we still seem to celebrate the idea of “working a long busy shift”, pushing through whatever difficulties it has thrown at us. Too often this means expending more energy than what we take in. It’s simple maths: if the energy out is greater than the energy in there is going to be a problem later.

Often the default mindset is: “I’m doing ok just now; I will just get through the shift and deal with it later.” Unfortunately, too often we put it off again, and again, and again, until one day we reach for our cup and find that it is totally empty. Then we ask, “how did it get this bad?”, and we wonder why we didn’t do something about it sooner.

Burnout doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a sliding scale that gets worse the more you continue to neglect yourself. A small energy deficit here or there can eventually develop into a major crisis if you don’t deal with it right away.

Self-care is the conscious effort of making time for activities beneficial to maintaining mental and physical health. Caring for your mind and body doesn’t have to be time consuming but does require regular and ongoing consideration. Eating and drinking well, getting enough sleep, exercising, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and living a healthy active lifestyle are just some of the physical health related aspects of self-care, but many people fail to focus on the mental health aspects, like stress management, relaxation, mindfulness, social connections, and hobbies.

Your health is invaluable, and your self-care can’t afford to wait. If you keep putting others first, you’ll soon find that you don’t have anything left to give them. Sometimes looking after yourself is the best gift you can give to others.

  • Learn to say no to others and yes to your own self-care.
  • Prioritise sleep so you can achieve a minimum of 8 hours a night.
  • Adopt a healthy diet and exercise routine.
  • Get outdoors and amongst nature as many times a week as you can.
  • Practice gratitude, meditate, mindfulness or other relaxation techniques.
  • During challenging interactions notice your thoughts, emotions and reactions, and breathe through them. Try stay present and keep conversations professional and relevant.
  • If you’re struggling to process your thoughts and emotions, talk it out with someone you trust (a peer, friend or professional)

Gordon McIntyre MBE

Founder

Hospitality Health

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