STOP. BREATHE. THE BARTENDER'S MENTAL HEALTH TOOLKIT
From long evenings to late nights, the effects of a turbulent few years can still be felt within the bar industry. The pressure for those who work in hospitality has been increased with further restrictions and regulations. Lauren Paylor, Focus on Health Founder, shares tips on how to have mental health awareness as a bar professional.
Mental Health Awareness: Wellness Comes with Balance
Firstly, wellness means making sacrifices to ensure that I am prioritizing myself and my needs. That looks different depending on the day and the situation at hand but sometimes it is saying no to opportunities or people, prioritizing my physical health by managing my nutrition and working out, or setting myself up with office hours if I’m working remotely. Wellness affects all aspects of our lives and every aspect of our health.
In order to keep myself well, I need to have balance. When we don't create boundaries and set expectations for ourselves, the balance that is necessary to thrive in our professional and home lives go to the wayside. Having hobbies allows you to be happy and, in turn, creates a happier work life. Boundaries provide us with the ability to state what is acceptable and unacceptable, and the expectations to allow us to hold ourselves accountable to our responsibilities.
What’s more, mindful living requires us to pause, observe and realize what our bodies need from us. When we pay attention to our bodies and the different pillars of wellness (mental, physical, social, environmental, and financial), we can better prioritize our needs.
Learning to Breathe: The Benefits of Mindful and Intentional Living
As someone who is working from home and has adjusted their career path, mindfulness plays a very beneficial role in ensuring that I am able to complete tasks in my day to day. When I take into consideration the moments that I experience stress, they are often because I am unorganized and not being mindful. Consider the last time you were stressed. What factors played a part in that stress? Did you have all of the tools necessary to be successful? Whatever the situation was, the next time you have a task to complete, determine how you can better prepare yourself in the future
Mindfulness at Work: Task Management and Organisation for Your Bar
Mise-en-place is a term that we all know too well. It means everything in its place. We are familiar with this term in relation to ensuring our stations have everything that they need in order to be set up for success. In instances where they do not, we prioritize and complete tasks to ensure that our common goal is met. In moments where we are unable to complete tasks because they are not an immediate priority, we pass tasks off to co-workers or complete them later in our shift. I use the same approach to ensure that I am successful in my life.
Task management and mindfulness go hand-in-hand. Having a routine has been proven to increase productivity, reduce stress and helps us to become focused. As a manager of a bar or a restaurant, it is essential that you are completing tasks in a timely and effective manner because your timeliness often affects other people and aspects of the business.
Having a planner, inputting deadlines into your calendar, and delegating tasks are three things that will help your wellbeing and your organization. Often the problem can be resolved by taking a deeper look at what is causing the issue. Living life more mindfully requires considering how our actions affect ourselves and others. If you need resources, Focus on Health is designed for those in the hospitality industry.
Time for a Low or No: Positive Drinking and Wellbeing
When we approach drinking with the same mindful approach that I outlined above, we do not find ourselves subject to making decisions based on emotion or temporary states of mind. Mindful drinking is a simple approach that draws on the philosophy and practices of mindfulness and includes paying attention, being curious about your experience, treating yourself kindly - a more mindful approach to your habitswhether in or out of the bar, or in how you serve others, can help you understand where you are and what might be right for you.
Approaching responsible drinking is simple, pause before making the decision to have a beverage and ask yourself how it will benefit you.
Working in the food and beverage industry where craft is integrated into what we serve our guests, it is a great opportunity to discuss low or no ABV options, such as a Spritz or non-alcoholic base like Seedlip, which can be used to replace a standard serve. Mindful drinking can result in more energy for exercise, better sleep, increased function of one's immune system and deeper self-awareness. Integration of mindfulness with drinking may affect our physical wellness and in turn positively affect other aspects of our overall wellness. That’s the beautiful thing about positive integration.
Not Just a Chat at the Bar: Communicating Wellness and Mental Health Stigma
Our last example will reflect on instances where outside factors play a part in the way that we communicate and what steps you can take to avoid emotions being the driving force of how we choose to react. Consider for a moment all the difficulties that people have faced: financial insecurity, loss of jobs, death of a loved one or relative, fear of illness, all while dealing with what normal day to day life has to offer.
Whether you are the individual communicating or the person listening, acknowledgement of outside factors and keeping a clear mind when communicating with our peers, guests and upper management will set us up for success. Listen, at the end of the day we are human. However, it is important to remember and to realize that we cannot control how others act but we can influence them and control how we react. I truly believe that is the most important thing to take away from this conversation.
Chris Sergin states that: “Communication and personal well-being refers to how human beings create, transmit, and interpret messages between two or more people and the well-being, or quality of life, of those individuals who are parties to that communication.” This statement displays the importance of understanding that wellness is interconnected.
Sustaining good quality interpersonal communication is essential to our overall health and wellbeing. The relationships we have that are not healthy, prevent us from thinking rationally and cause us stress or harm. Maintaining these relationships influence our interpersonal experiences and affect our overall wellbeing – meaning a healthier and happier you!
The importance of understanding reasoning and language regarding communication is that when we work in bars and restaurants, we want to be trained to be effective listeners and effective responders. Feeling empowered to speak up when there are injustices occurring, when clarity is needed or simply when an opinion needs to be stated displays the importance of psychological safety and understanding of reasoning/language.
Additionally, acknowledging that humility and humbleness are part of growing and evolving. We do not have to have the answers to everything, but we should be able to properly communicate our needs. We make the decision to maintain and sustain our interpersonal relationships. The quality of those relationships affects our overall wellbeing, and we have the ability and the power to communicate our needs in those relationships if they are not aligned with what we need to sustain our health and wellness.
Five Key Takeaways:
- Make sacrifices when necessary to ensure you are prioritising yourself and your needs
- Take the time to be an effective communicator as well as an effective listener.
- Wellness is interconnected. Balance is necessary to thrive in our professional and personal lives.
- Be intentional and mindful in everything you do - consider how it affects yourself and others around you.
- Figure out what tools you can use to approach task management in a more effective way (planner, calendar usage, delegation).
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