Working in the restaurant industry can be a grueling and stressful job. The hours can be long and the work tiring. During peak dining times, you may feel immense pressure to prepare meals quickly without compromising quality. Breaks may be postponed due to the influx of customers.
Restaurant staff often work strenuous hours and may be prone to substance abuse issues; they also approach work with an exhausting mentality. Many workers don't ask for help or don't always prioritize mental self-care; and restaurant culture, historically, hasn't seen it as something employees should address in their free time. Restaurants are currently understaffed, so almost all current employees are overworked. Staff that used to just be waiters must now take on the tasks of waiter, lodging, selling food and even washing dishes.
However, the nature of working in restaurants caused overwork even before the pandemic. Surges in customers can come out of nowhere. This intoxicating mix of uncertainty and dramatic spikes in adrenaline can easily lead to exhaustion. For Emmeline Meyers, who recently left her job as a waitress at the Earls Kitchen+ Bar in Back Bay to focus on school, changes in COVID-19 regulations contributed to the stress and confusion of her work.
A recent study found that jobs with low salaries and a heavy workload, such as restaurant waiters, increase the risk of heart problems and strokes by more than 50 percent, especially since people with high levels of stress at work are less likely to take care of themselves and more likely to drink or smoke. Researchers say that work stress actually boils down to how much control and respect a person feels in their position and that, although professions such as doctors or teachers can generate a lot of mental tension, the sense of empowerment and autonomy given to people who perform these functions allows them not to get too stressed. For a waiter who recently quit his job at an Allston restaurant, much of the stress came from weighing the cost of tolerating harassment against the need to earn a living. The Colorado Restaurant Association recently conducted a survey, and a spokesperson says that more than 80% of its members reported an increase in the stress levels of their staff over the past year. To help address this issue, some restaurants have started offering workshops for their staff on how to manage stress.
These workshops are led by a licensed therapist and cover a variety of topics such as managing stress and microaggressions, setting boundaries in the workplace, and treating trauma and substance abuse. Work stress in restaurant cooking culture is a reality in the restaurant industry, and it's not realistic to expect it to go away with a little vinyasa. The Colorado Restaurant Association recently conducted a survey, and a spokesperson says that more than 80% of its members reported an increase in the stress levels of their staff over the past year. Restaurant jobs have always been difficult, but mental stress worsened during the pandemic as restaurants closed or reduced their hours or became ground zero in the fight for the use of masks. Drinks after the shift can temporarily reduce stress, but they greatly increase it again when you're fuzzy and in a bad mood hours later. A new study that analyzes the most stressful jobs in the world states that being a waiter in a restaurant can be more stressful than working as a doctor or architect.
By comparison, a job such as serving in a restaurant which often involves a lack of empowerment, demands from customers, management and unsociable schedules can have the worst impact on stress. Coffee and other beverages such as soft drinks and energy drinks can cause more anxiety and therefore more stress according to Janine Booth, chef and partner at Root & Bone in New York City and Stiltsville Fish Bar in Miami. Restaurant jobs have always been difficult but mental stress worsened during the pandemic as restaurants closed or reduced their hours or became ground zero in the fight for the use of masks. The report's argument suggests that changes in how certain jobs are structured could reduce these risks; for example giving staff better control over their work, giving them more decision-making power or some flexibility in how they structure shifts would restore the sense of empowerment which is key to reducing work-related stress.