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Tips for restaurant owners: How to manage stress during the holiday season

How to manage stressThe holidays don’t always bring in festive cheer for some people. In many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, the shorter days and gloomy nights can trigger the onset of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in some people. Even with individuals who aren’t affected by SAD can feel particularly stressed out because of all the merrymaking we are expected to make.

Restaurant owners, operators, and staff, for example, can get easily stressed during the holidays. The commercial kitchen environment is already stressful enough as it is. When you throw in a huge crowd of customers coming in for something to eat after some stressful holiday shopping followed by an unmistakable winter slump in sales afterwards, the stress can become unbearable.

Fortunately, there are simple ways to minimize stress. You may not be able to get rid of it altogether, but you can manage your expectations and choose your behavior so that you don’t let holiday stressors get the best of you.

  1. Know what stresses you out.

Awareness is key to effective stress management. Once you figure out what triggers your stress, it will be easier for you to avoid them or create effective coping strategies. For some people, the demands of having to spend more for the holidays stresses them out. For others, it may be the pressure of being forced to spend time with family they aren’t on good terms with.

  1. Know your stress symptoms.

The effects of stress can show up in various ways. Some people manifest physical symptoms, but not all people have similar symptoms. Here are the most common physical stress symptoms you might want to look out for:

  •   Low energy
  •   Fatigue
  •   Headaches
  •   Chest pains
  •   Insomnia
  •   Upset stomach
  •   Frequent shaking
  •   Loss of sexual desire
  •   Dry mouth
  •   Clenched jaw
  •   Grinding teeth

Some people may not exhibit physical symptoms but suffer from a range of emotional and mental symptoms. For instance, you may be feeling easily frustrated, agitated, or overwhelmed. You may have low self-esteem, constant worrying, or an inability to focus on your work.

  1. Know your stressors in the restaurant.

Plenty of work-related stressors can be managed by addressing them head-on. For instance, the cold weather can cause glitches in your commercial ice maker or commercial freezer, but you can easily prevent this by preparing your equipment for the winter. If you have a Manitowoc ice machine, for example, make sure you winterize it and insulate the water pipes to keep them from freezing and compromising the performance of your ice maker.

Another example is staffing. Seasonal staffing can get you in a bind if you don’t prepare early. You can prevent this by setting up the staff schedule months ahead of the holidays and bringing in extra help for the busy holidays.

  1. Check in with your employees.

When you are feeling stressed, it’s likely that there are people around you who feel the same. Much as you would like to keep to yourself, working at a restaurant means working with a group of people who have different reactions to certain situations. Ask your staff if they need help coping with the busyness of the season and offer help whenever you can. Similarly, don’t be afraid to let others know your status so they can get out of their way to help you cope as well.

  1. Stay in the present moment.

Much of the stress we experience comes either from obsessing about a past that we cannot change or feeling anxious about a future that is not yet here. Let go of your hold on the past and the future and stay fully in the present.