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As festive season approaches it is as important as ever for industry professionals to look after themselves. Tim Etherington Judge of Happy Hospo and qualified therapist Merly Kammerling, share their tips for healthy hospitality lifestyles.



It is the season to be jolly, to give and to receive but for those in hospitality, give a lot more! Physically, mentally and emotionally. It can be a fun time to be at work but it can also feel like all of your time is sacrificed to ensure the satisfaction of customers and employers, leaving you feeling tired and overworked with little time to be jolly or to manage self-care.

The quantity of time you have off during this period of festivities may be somewhat reduced, therefore the quality of your time off and looking after yourself is what is going to make the difference.



Let’s not beat around the bush, December is hard, and even harder now with new restrictions. Crazy long hours, crazy shifts, difficult customers, and huge amounts of stress. There’s nothing wrong with hard work, however, if you’re going to get through busier times, then you need to also focus on recovering hard and looking after yourself so you can turn up to every shift at 100% and give yourself the right work/life balance.


Like a battery, consider ways to preserve and recover your energy. When we think of recovery, initially we think of rest but there are other ways that we need to recharge. Our personal time is hugely important to our well-being. Make a list of the things that keep you feel stable, enhance your mental and physical energy. Try to ensure on a weekly basis that you schedule time for these activities, this could be anything such as exercise, staying in touch with loved ones, listening to podcasts, watching a movie, and eating well. Listing them out and having a plan will certainly help you to remember what’s important and motivate you to factor it in.



If you’re going to do just one thing from this list, then focus on better sleep. As a society, we’re sleeping less than ever, and our industry is arguably the worst sleepers of the lot. Late nights may be the norm, however, in order to stay healthy as a bartender, you need to ensure you get the best night’s rest possible. Don’t think of it as time wasted, think of it as exactly what it is: essential recovery.


Decent sleep can be unrealistic to constantly achieve as a bartender, but it should be a priority for looking after yourself. Deep breathing exercises are one of the quickest ways to deactivate our fight or flight response, which is the restless energy which buzzes around your body during and after a busy shift at work.

Allow the belly to expand and deflate for the count of four. Doing this in intervals of 3 mins during the day will help you to feel calmer and more rational. Do this again 5-10mins before bed to help aid sleep.



You’ve made it to the end of a crazy night, so post-shift should be an opportune moment to unwind – usually with your fellow bartenders over how bad the shift was. Switch out to a non-alcoholic or low-alcohol option for that after work drink, so you can have all the benefits of unwinding and unloading after a hard shift, without the negative impact on your sleep.


Alcohol, in particular, is an immediate relaxant but it is also a depressant and negatively impacts the quality of sleep. Monitoring your drinking today and reducing your alcohol intake could be the difference between having a good or bad day tomorrow. Try swapping to no/low alcohol options or moving from doubles to singles in order to look after yourself.

Reduce the temptation to drink and increase the opportunity for sleep by going home from a social event or after-work drinks earlier than usual. Employers and managers could help promote the wellbeing of staff by limiting the number of drinks allowed after work and encouraging staff to go home after shifts.



Time management (or lack of) in work and our personal lives can be something that increases stress levels and overwhelms us. We can’t change how many hours there are in a day but we change how we prioritize the time we have.

The Eisenhower Matrix is a simple tool to help you break down your ‘to-do list’ into smaller chunks and prioritize tasks based on importance. It also allows you to identify tasks that you should either delegate or not do at all as they are a waste of time.

Use the image beside or this video to help you create your own version. Equally, you can print off a PDF version here to utilize and share with colleagues who may benefit.



There’s no ‘I’ in team and hospitality is a team job. Support one another, after all, you’re stronger together than as individuals. By looking after one another (especially during busy times) you’ll all make it through.



Above all, you need to be kind to yourself. The reality is that you are probably going to have days when you feel so tired that your self-care goes out the window and then the guilt sets in and your inner critic say things like ‘I should be eating healthier’.... ‘I should be exercising instead of sitting on the sofa’. These thoughts just make us feel worse and unmotivated.

So instead turn that ‘should’ into ‘could’ and ask yourself; ‘What could I do to look after myself?’ As an example, you may not feel like a run or the gym but you could do lower impact exercises such as yoga or walking as this can actually help you to feel more recharged and calmer in the long-term. Or you could choose a healthier meal option next time or have an extra portion of veg.

Healthier self-talk can help you feel more in control and motivated. Remember, even the smallest efforts in looking after yourself as a bartender during this busy time are definitely better than nothing at all. Taking these measures will ensure that once January starts, and you have a decent bit of time off you can fully enjoy it!


  1. Make clever use of your limited time off during this season, do activities which relax you.
  2. Get enough sleep, this is essential to survive the season.
  3. Consider switching to low/no alcohol post-shift.
  4. Check-in and support your teammates, chances are they will be feeling the same way.
  5. Be kind to yourself, don’t criticize yourself for not fulfilling self-care to the fullest