The hospitality industry has always been known for being busy and demanding but, for most of us, the good outweighs the bad when it comes to working in hotels and restaurants.
But what happens when work gets stressful and it doesn’t ease in the way it usually does? It could be a particularly busy period, like Christmas or the summer, pressure outside of work or getting used to a new role, but whatever the cause it is easy for pressure to turn into stress if we leave it unchecked.
What is stress?
The Stress Management Society define stress as your body’s way of responding to an overwhelming amount of pressure. Your body releases chemicals into your blood that give you more energy and strength. This is a good thing if the threat is physical as it enables you to get out of a dangerous situation quickly. The difficulty is, our bodies cannot tell the difference between physical danger and emotional pressure. We react the same way so too much to do at work or home can have us unable to think clearly and feeling like we want to run away.
Tips for combating stress in the hospitality sector
As busy hospitality professionals, we need to find ways to alleviate the physical symptoms of stress and address the mental ones, both in the moment and afterwards.
We asked the team at Clayton Hotel Birmingham for their tips on stress management and they suggested:
In the moment:
As our primary response to stress is physical, stretching or progressive muscle relaxation can help refocus in the moment. There are lots of easy exercises you can do while sitting at a desk, in a back room or in a bathroom if you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Use your senses
The 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique is a fantastic way to bring your mind away from stressful thoughts and back to the present moment. It’s simple too, all you have to do is acknowledge:
5 things you see: could be a water feature in the lobby, chef in the kitchen or printer in the office. Just bring your mind back to your surroundings.
4 things you can touch: maybe a desk in front of you, the brickwork of a wall, the frame of a picture.
3 things you can hear: could be guests checking in, prep from the kitchen or phones ringing in the background.
2 things you can smell: could be brewing coffee or lunch preparation.
1 thing you can taste: could be gum you are chewing or a sweet from the welcome jar.
Going through this process doesn’t take time and helps your brain relax and refocus on the task at hand.
- Short Walk
Although not always possible, if you can get out even for a short walk in the grounds of your premises it is likely to help, firstly because it helps your body deal with the excess stress chemicals, and secondly a change of scenery can help you prioritise the tasks you have to complete.
- Deep Breaths
Another symptom of stress is shallow breathing. We do this to get more oxygen into our system if we are in physical danger. If the threat is not physical than breathing deeply can help you relax and refocus.
If you are feeling particularly anxious, speaking to a trusted colleague or your manager can help. Simply airing your concerns can help you see them more clearly and they may be able to offer additional support if you are overstretched.
Ensure you are getting enough sleep, 7-8 hours every night. Try to avoid caffeinated drinks in the afternoon and vigorous exercise and screen time in the hour or two before bed to help you sleep better.
Exercise has two benefits when it comes to stress relief. Like any physical movement, it helps your body process the chemicals produced when we are feeling anxious, but also helps us stay in the moment. It’s difficult to think too much about our problems in the middle of a spin or circuit training class! Anna Wadcock, General Manager General Manager of the Clayton Hotel Birmingham finds exercise particularly beneficial, recommending hospitality employees, “try and fit in a little exercise a couple of times a week”.
A trend for the last few years, mindfulness is derived from the ancient art of meditation which aims to calm the mind and focus on the moment. There are countless resources available on YouTube to help you practice mindfulness in everyday life. Only 10 minutes of mindfulness a day can make a big difference.
Did you know: building the stress management methods that work best for you into your daily routine will help you cope better when the pressure is on?
The calming effects of the ancient art of yoga combine the need for exercise, relaxation and mindfulness into stress management.
- Revive a hobby
Rediscovering an old hobby can help deal with stresses whether they are at work or home. Did you paint at school? Love to sew? Or is car maintenance or furniture restoration your thing? Sometimes embarking on a much loved hobby can help you handle a stressful period better.
- See family and friends
Relationships matter, especially during stressful times. Try and make time to see the people you love and who love you.
Finally, talk to a friend, family member or professional before stress becomes overwhelming. It will help get some perspective. If this isn’t working for you consider a visit to your GP for further advice.