The truth about working in hospitality

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The truth about working in hospitality

Anybody who has worked in hospitality industry knows that it can get stressful. Rude customers, too many tasks to do at one time and long shifts that may wreck your social life. Only 7% of employees feel they can open up to their employer about their mental health. Ten percent of workers said they had a 'depressive episode' in the last year. In comparison 15% of women working in hospitality had one. This shows a huge increase of staff feeling bad in hospitality compared to other jobs.

A recent study has shown that over half of all workers in the food and drink industry have had treatment for their mental health. This is worrying given that one out of the two people who serve you has a mental health issue.  Even more worrying is the fact that less than half of those affected would tell anybody about their mental health. This includes family and friends.

Most employers are now realising the importance if supporting staff and prioritising their health. This should result in better working conditions. While your employer makes the necessary changes these are a few things you can do to remain calm:

  • Make the most of your days off.  See your friends and family, relax and use the day as a wellbeing day to do the things you enjoy!  Book a trip to the spa, read a book, catch up on the latest TV shows you’ve missed or go for a walk! Although it may be tempting, sleeping away the entire day is not going to be helpful to you in the long run. It will ruin your sleep cycle, making you feel groggy the rest of the day!

  • Make some lifestyle changes. Eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, sleeping 7-8 hours per night and exercising will all help and make you better at coping with work stress. Remember that physical health is closely linked with mental health The happier your body, the happier your mind! Caffeine, tobacco and alcohol can make you feel tired and irritable after a period of time.
  • Take a breather. If you feel as if things are getting to be too much or you are feeling overwhelmed, step outside for a moment and take a breath. Your mental health is more important than the dishes in the sink. If it is busy, ask a colleague to cover you for just a few moments. Practise deep breathing exercises, they are an easy and quick way of reducing stress. Take long, deep breaths using your belly, not your chest. If you are raising your shoulders you are doing it wrong.
  • Know your limits. Everybody has different limits, know yours and do not take on more work than you can cope with. It does not matter if you can’t keep up with everybody else on your team. If you are struggling with a certain task, ask a colleague to take over and do something you feel better doing. Not everybody can be perfect at everything! If you are finding it hard to keep up in general, speak to a trusted colleague or your manager about how you are feeling, they can support you or offer you further training.
  • Practise relaxation. There are different ways you can practise relaxation to help prevent the work stress in the first place. This can range from mindfulness to muscle relaxation. One guided relaxation app, ‘Feel Stress Free’, takes you through different activities to help manage and prevent symptoms linked with stress, anxiety and mild depression. The app is developed by leading UK psychologists and uses clinically proven techniques. To download Feel Stress Free, visit: www.feelstressfree.com

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Work smarter, not harder

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Work smarter, not harder

‘Work smarter, not harder’ is something you'll have heard from your colleagues or your boss. Working long hours and accomplishing little will take it's toll. Is there a way to get all the work done without having to spend your Saturdays in front of your laptop?

You may feel like you have not even had a chance to get your lunch yet it's 5 pm and you are not even half way through your to do list. You're facing yet another late night at work. You make life difficult for yourself by overloading your task list, and rush to complete as much as you can. Even if you do finish everything, it might not be to as high of a standard as you'd like.

Working smart means prioritising and doing things one at a time. It is about staying focused with one thing, taking timely breaks, managing your time effectively, and not getting distracted. Here are some tips to ensure you are working smart, so that you can reach your full potential within the workplace:

  • Prioritise your workload. Write a realistic to-do list for the day or week of everything you would like to achieve. It is a good idea to put these in order of approaching deadlines or larger projects in order to complete all of your given tasks. Try not to start one thing without finishing the previous thing, as distraction in other areas of work can make life confusing. Time management is key. Be strict with yourself and your time, and you will get more done.
  • Do the hardest job first. We tend to put off the hard jobs on our to do lists, when we should be doing the opposite. You are fresher at the begining of your day so use that energy to tackle the hardest job first. Once you do it, the rest of your to do list will fly by.
  • Don’t waste previous work. If you have previously completed a piece of work and your new task is similar, do not waste time starting all over again. Use your previous piece of work as a template for your new project. Use your templates and improve on them in order to reach your goal in a timely manner.
  •  Make time for breaks. Overworking yourself will not do you any favours, and taking on too much work is a leading cause of workplace stress. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, take a break. Fresh air and taking a short walk can increase productivity and reduce stress levels, making sure you feel refreshed and ready to work when you return. Try to take your lunch break away from your desk, not staring at a computer—get up and stretch. According to lifehack.org, taking a ‘microbreak’ between 30 seconds and 5 minutes can increase mental sharpness by 15%. Try to be active during these breaks, a bit of exercise will go a long way. You've heard of the phrase 'the best time to relax is when you don't have time for it'—maybe it's true?
  •  Reward yourself. Rewarding yourself on doing a good job increases motivation and productivity. Reward systems can be specific to you, your interests and the activities you love doing, but never get a chance to. For example, if you complete x amount of tasks within the week, then treat yourself to lunch with your friends or a night out over the weekend. Rewarding yourself will also build on your self-confidence, increasing the likelihood of trying new things within your work. Want that new shirt or dress you've seen? Target yourself on completing your work and treat yourself to it!
  • Learn to say no, and stop aiming for perfection. As mentioned previously, taking on too much of a heavy workload can cause stress within the workplace, preventing you from working to your full potential. If you already have numerous tasks or a big project that needs to be done, say no to any more work until you have completed current projects. Try not to spend too much time dwelling on something that doesn’t seem perfect. According to ‘The balance’ - constantly reaching for perfection often leads to poor relationships with colleagues, irritability, procrastination, low productivity, depression, stress and anxiety. 
  • Practise mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Stress causes numerous negative aspects within the workplace including lack of productivity, lack of concentration, irritability and more. To work smart, you must ensure your mental wellbeing is at a constant positive level. This doesn’t have to be practising yoga in the middle of an office, there are now apps that teach you subtle relaxation techniques to ensure you remain calm and collected throughout the day. Calm breathing techniques are proven to help with focus and attention, for example.

Feel Stress Free is an app by Thrive, developed by leading UK psychologists and psychiatrists using clinically proven techniques to reduce and build resilience to stress, anxiety and mild depression. Typically used as a prevention tool, it is a beneficial to use the app throughout the day. It includes various different techniques ranging from breathing exercises to progressive muscle relaxation. The techniques can be carried out for as long or as little as you wish, making it perfect for a commute to work, your lunch break or even on a microbreak.

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How to have a stress free weekend

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How to have a stress free weekend

After a hard week of work, the weekend is usually a time of relaxation and should be spent doing the things you enjoy. Everybody deserves a break, so spending your weekend stressed out is not what you need. Stress over the weekend tends to be due to the chores that you may need to catch up on, or experiencing the Sunday blues (around 26% of people feel anxious the evening before going back to work). Too many of us try to cram in an entire month’s chores into one weekend, catch up with all our favourite TV shows until 3am, or do other non-relaxing activities.

Here are some tips to ensure you feel truly refreshed on that dreaded Monday morning and enjoy your well-deserved weekend break:

  • Time management. Weekends are short in compared to the rest of the week. Prioritise what you need doing, and make sure you leave yourself plenty of relaxation time doing the things you enjoy. Read a good book, socialise, meditate or go for a nice walk. Make a list, including down time, and stick to it!

  • Be healthy. Eating a well balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and exercising are all key to reducing stress and increasing energy. With an increase in energy during the week, you may find yourself able to do all the things you have planned for the weekend without leaving yourself exhausted.

  • Spend time with loved ones. Most of us spend our time at work or school during the week. The weekend is the perfect time to visit the friends and family you don't have time to see Monday to Friday. Plan something fun with everybody or just pop over for a catch up. If you have children, it is a nice idea to take them out somewhere fun as they deserve a break from school just as you do from work!

  • Relax and sleep. Most people don’t particularly enjoy waking up early 5 days in a row so treat yourself to a lay-in if you can! Try not to oversleep, though, as this can cause you to feel tired throughout the day and cut the time with your loved ones short. Try 5 minutes of relaxation techniques (meditation or progressive deep muscle relaxation) before sleep to help you fall asleep better, reduce stress, and have a deeper sleep.

  • Do something you love. Don’t waste your whole weekend doing housework or catching up on work. Have a project or a hobby and indulge a bit. Your weekend can be as busy or as relaxed as you like, but make sure you are not wasting it doing something you don't enjoy.

  • Get outside. Get some exercise, take the children or pets out, or just enjoy the weather. The list of possibilities for getting that fresh air is endless. Being around nature is good for many things like memory, creativity and emotional wellbeing. Follow this link for some good reasons to go outside. 

  • Plan your weekend. Plan a list of realistic things you’d like to do over the weekend on Thursday night, but ensure to check the weather before you plan! Even booking things in advance is a great way to plan your time out and have things to look forward to.

  • Get away. Take a break from your regular routine by getting out of the town. Go camping, to a lodge or to the seaside! Breaking routine can allow you to reduce stress and feel free. Invite loved ones and create a fun-packed weekend break!

  • Practise mindfulness. If you feel yourself getting particularly stressed, practise mindfulness techniques to relieve stress and anxiety. This can include meditation, deep muscle relaxation and more. Even a few minutes a day can do wonders for your mental wellbeing. Feel Stress Free is a mobile app which includes these plus many other clinically proven techniques. What will taking 5 minutes out of your day really do? You could find yourself enjoying your weekend more because of it.

Have a fun, stress-busting weekend!

To download Feel Stress Free visit: www.feelstressfree.com

 

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From one man to another - Look after your mental health

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From one man to another - Look after your mental health

I didn’t tell anyone, including my own mother and father, how I felt when I was experiencing the worst of my depression. Infact, the thought of ending my own life seemed easier than facing up to telling someone how I was feeling.

I look back now and can’t believe that’s what was going through my head. If you are reading this now and feel similar, or you know someone who might be, speaking out may feel like the biggest hurdle to cross for you (or them), but it’s one of the most rewarding. It really is. It’s out there then. No more hiding. No more worrying. No more trying to put on a brave face all the time. And infact, chances are, the person you tell would have already gone through something themselves, or would know someone close to them who has. You really are not alone, despite how you might feel right now.

76% of people who suffer with a mental illness will still not seek help (according to the HSE), and 1 in 4 of us will suffer at some stage. That’s so wrong. On that basis, out of 100 people, 25 will experience depression or anxiety. Out of that 25, only 6 will seek support, with 19 not seeking any support.

Looking back, I wish I spoke out sooner than what I did. I felt like my life was on autopilot until that day. I’d wake up every day feeling the same, and go to bed feeling as if I’d want the world to swallow me up. As soon as I spoke out and told someone how I felt, I remember sleeping soundly for the first time in ages. Someone else understood. I wasn’t alone and it felt so good to not just read that, but hear someone close to me say it.

It was a long road though. Someone would say ‘I’m always here to talk if you need it’, and I’d reply with a smile ‘Yeah, thanks, I’m alright’. That was another hurdle I had to get over—male pride. Before I spoke out, I put a lot of pressure on myself, and I didn’t have to at all. I worried a lot, and I didn’t need to. I felt embarrassed, but I shouldn’t have done. It frustrates me now thinking there must be so many men out there who want help, but just don’t know how to ask for it. Little do you realise how many people close to you would love to be able to help you if only they knew. 

What should I look out for?

Low self-esteem is very common with mental illness. That in turn impacts on the rest of your thought/decision making process, which is why it’s so much harder to find the courage to speak out. Being hard on yourself, being quite sensitive compared to usual, and feeling annoyed or angry, but without knowing exactly why, are all common traits someone who has anxiety or depression may feel.

It can often be very difficult to ‘spot’ a mental illness, but we can all be more mindful in looking at the signs and seeing if we can help before it’s needed. When you do think someone could do with a bit of support, here are the things you need to consider.

The light at the end of the tunnel is MUCH closer than you think.

As I’ve said, first thing first, speak to someone. Tell them how you feel and share your pain. The door is then open, that person knows how you are feeling, and you can be ‘yourself’ without having to put on a brave face. That’s the best thing I ever did.

Secondly, see your GP. This is a very stereotypical thing for me to say, but given my experience, I’ll say it - try and see a young GP if you can. There seems to be a lot more awareness/understanding of mental health issues in GP training, specifically over the past 10 years. This means the ‘new blood’ of GPs (those in their 30s) tend to be more helpful to people like you and I. As I say, a very stereotypical thing for me to say, but something that seems quite common and that I experienced myself. Your GP may well ask you to complete something called the GAD7 and PHQ9, which is 16 multiple choice questions to screen for your anxiety or depression. This will roughly tell them how severe your situation is, so that they know what the next steps should be. Depending on how you feel, you will be referred to your local IAPT service (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies), given anti-depressant medication, or referred to another counselling/therapy service.

Lastly, do not give up. If you’ve completed the first two steps you’ll be well on the road to recovery with the right support around you. You need to be pro-active as much as everyone else, and you’ve already conquered the biggest hurdles. Either way, do what is best for YOU. Do some research online. Visit charity websites to see what they recommend. Join support groups. Download some recommended apps. Invest time in yourself.

 The next parts are easy. Trust me, I’ve been there.

You are not alone and you never will be. Seeking support was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it changed my life forever.

 

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