What to Do When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed
By Karena Wu, as published in Total Food Service.
It is the middle of winter in NYC and it finally got brutally cold. The weather has been changing since the fall and the holidays have come and gone in a flash again. It is always a very busy time, between work in the restaurants, social life and family time. It is a serious juggle of time, energy and stress.
Sometimes the years and the repetitiveness of work can become overwhelming. We love what we do; we have a passion for it. But at times, the repetitive nature, life stresses, and any other situations can lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed and overworked. There is a lot to be done in the service industry: all of that prep time and then the service part which means a whole heck of a lot of work all the time. Time flies when you are having fun but it also flies year after year.
How can you tell if you are overworked or overwhelmed? Look for tell-tale signs of difficulties with simple tasks. Here is a small list:
- Feeling fatigued or exhausted. Psychological stress is taxing. We can physically go through the motions but if you are not mentally there with it, everything feels difficult. Feeling tired or just ‘blah’ about things is a sign that you might be mentally stressed and might need a break to get yourself refreshed and recharged to go back into what you love to do.
- Difficulty with sequencing or forgetfulness. We all have our routines in life. When we get up to start our day and get out of the house, we usually do things in a certain order and do a certain number of things. Forgetting one of those items or doing one out of sequence can be a sign that you are mentally taxed. These rote activities require very little thought but when you forget, it means that your mind is not working so well.
- Feeling irritable. Being overwhelmed and overworked can lead to a very short fuse. Chronic stress and fatigue can lead to physiological changes of more cortisol and less dopamine to the brain, which means ill-temperament and irritability. You might lack patience in situations that you normally would be a little more relaxed about.
- Weight gain. When your brain just can’t handle it anymore, it means letting go of the normal discipline one can have with their diet. This can lead to unhealthy choices. It might be overeating to gain comfort from foods that can offset the stress, but only temporarily. Other times, it can be forgetting to eat which taxes the body even further which means the body holds on to every morsel that is ingested because it thinks it is starving. Either way, cortisol a hormone released during stressful periods leads to an increase in weight gain especially in the abdominal area.
- Lack of motivation. I find it difficult to wake up in the morning. Sometimes it is hard to get up and out of bed, especially in the winter months. Waking up to face the day’s tasks when you are not feeling mentally or physically up to it is difficult. Once you are up, you can tackle anything but when you are overwhelmed, the mere thought of leaving the safety of your bed is daunting and this can be a sign that you are overworked or overwhelmed.
- Inability to focus. You might find yourself easily distracted or just forget where you are while you are doing something. You might miss a deadline or important facts. You have mentally checked out because the brain is waving the white flag of resignation from being overworked. Take a break and recharge so you don’t feel overwhelmed with your daily routine.
The service industry is physically and mentally taxing. It requires long hours on your feet, strength and endurance to prepare and process food items and then the mentally capacity to deal with the public with your most pleasant demeanor. It is important to take care of your health and wellness on a regular basis. Keep a balanced diet, exercise in moderation, and mentally challenge yourself with activities outside of the workplace. Take heed of the above list and listen to your body when it changes. It takes a strong mind to power the body and a balanced system in order to make it in this industry so keep up the good work and your customers will enjoy coming back to enjoy your delicious creations and excellent service.
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