Take Time to Recharge: Self-Care During a Crisis

Sometimes you need to relax with a dog on your lap. Image: gollykim / Getty Images

During times of crisis, everyone feels something: sadness, confusion, fear, anxiety, or anger.

It can be easy for many within the industry to become overwhelmed with the amount of decisions that need to be made not only for their business, but for their family, staff, and community.

One area that often gets overlooked, particularly among business and community leaders, is their own self care.

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From watching the news every hour to making tough decisions, to hours of volunteering, to scrolling through your social media a little too much, it’s easy to get lost in the noise of what’s going on around us in the time of crisis.

And you’re not alone in this.

During a period of increased stress and uncertainty, it’s more important than ever for bar and restaurant owners, managers, and staff to take care of themselves while also looking out for one another.

Difficult times such as this will almost certainly feel like a marathon, not a sprint. When is there going to be light at the end of the tunnel? That’s a question for which no one seems to know the answer.

To continue to deliver the best possible support for its duration, we must first support ourselves.

Looking after ourselves (and our staff) has never been more important. We must give ourselves permission to change the “customer is always first” narrative in this industry to “the customer is always…but not always…first.” 

When pressure and demand are high, when leaders within the bar and restaurant industry feel they need to stretch well beyond their comfort zones to cope, it can seem impossible to stop and take a break—for you.

You're not a Machine

We must emphasize that regular rest and breaks are recharges—the essential repowering that provides us the ability to function at our best during the most difficult times—and it’s something that must be clearly modeled and supported by all leaders, owners and managers.

Most of us start to feel anxious as soon as our phones flash that the battery is low and we start seeking out sockets to recharge, but we don’t always apply the same basic principles to ourselves. 

Our ability to cope with extraordinary demands, like a viral pandemic or natural disaster, depends on our staff having the resources and reserves to draw upon. We have to be there for them in our most desirable capacity.

We can also look after each other by compassionately witnessing and acknowledging the daily experience of working through a local, regional or global crisis.

It’s important that self-care is a primary mindset and not an after-thought. We must also be kind to ourselves, and to those around us.

It may also be time for some “you time.” Whether you’re closed or operating your venue at limited capacity, if you find yourself wondering what to do, it may be wise to take some time to learn and grow personally. Take a class, read books, and explore the modern hospitality industry.

Make time to unwind, exercise, volunteer, and be mindful.

Ways to be mindful include:

  •  Yoga or breathing exercises, focusing on each inhale and exhale.
  •  Eating healthy meals and savoring each bite.
  •  Meditating on a positive word (relaxation, ease or calm).
  • Taking a bath, noticing the warm temperature and its effects on the release of muscle tension.
  • Lastly, if you need someone to talk to, reach out. Being mindful means it’s also okay to feel vulnerable. Reach out to friends, family or crisis hotlines. No matter your situation, there’s help available.

‘Social’ Distancing

When you’re practicing self-care, consider not posting it to your favorite social media channels to really embrace giving yourself a break from these outlets. When you go to post on social media, you’re drawn into the noise and news. Mental health is extremely important during the best of times.

Start and end your day with positivity. It can actually feel empowering—give it a try!

Work on the Business

Once you feel ready, when you’ve given yourself some time to become reenergized, mindful, and further educated, take some of this “extra” time to reflect and make adjustments for your business.

Prepare for reopening, prepare for a revised business model, prepare a new budget, and prepare to start setting aside financial reserves in case of a reoccurring crisis.

The industry will likely never be the same moving forward. You must position yourself and your business now for a sustainable future. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start embracing change.

No matter what you’re feeling right now, it’s okay—we’ve never been through such a crisis. There’s no right way or wrong way. One recommendation you read or watch may work for you but not the bar or restaurant located one block away, and vice versa.

While we’re all in this together, we also have to embrace the fact that sometimes, you have to just look after you first.

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As a coach for world-class clients across the globe, Sean has a unique perspective for any operator.

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