Merly Kammerling of Well & Being is our guide to becoming happier, better balanced and more productive bartenders.

Life as a bartender can be an incredibly enjoyable and rewarding career, but if we are not careful, the lifestyle can easily take its toll on our mental health and wellbeing.

Mixed anxiety and depression is Britain’s most common mental disorder, but in hospitality, the numbers are even higher: four out of five experience high levels of stress and poor mental health, according to the Burnt Chef Project. Late nights, long hours and high-pressure situations can be part of the problem, which are compounded with current staff shortages, high inflation, the cost of living crisis and duty hikes. The pressures on the front line can be intense. On top of this, trying to fit in personal commitments and life admin outside of work hours can be overwhelming and lead to burnout.

Over the next few articles I am going to be talking in more detail about how to be more self-aware about your emotions, the importance of self-care and tips that can help to relieve day-to-day stress and help you to avoid burnout.

Nobody can be described as having good mental health every minute of every day because our experiences and feelings are never static. Mental health and wellbeing are terms that are commonly used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Mental health refers to our brain’s health and emotional stability, whereas wellbeing is a broader term that covers all aspects of our overall functioning. Knowledge on understanding how the human brain works is continually expanding, but one thing that is constantly agreed on is that our wellbeing is key to impacting our mood and experience of life.

The diagram demonstrates how each area of our life contributes to our overall state of wellbeing and how we think and feel. You can use the eight tenets of wellbeing to help you reflect on your own current wellbeing.

Here are some simple tips that can help reduce your stress levels and support your mental health and wellbeing on a day-to-day basis:


Like a battery, consider ways to preserve and recover your energy. Using the eight tenets of wellbeing diagram as a reference, make a list of the things that keep you feeling stable and enhance your mental and physical energy. Writing them down and having a plan will help you to remember what is important and will motivate you to factor them into your life. This could be anything, such as exercise, staying in touch with loved ones or finding something enjoyable and stimulating to do.

Decent sleep can be unrealistic to constantly achieve in a bartender’s line of work, and while we can manage on four to six hours a night, we aren’t going to be firing on all cylinders.

Deep breathing exercises are among the quickest ways to deactivate the restless energy which buzzes around your body after a busy shift at work (the same hormones the body releases in the fight or flight response). Allow your belly to expand and deflate for the count of four. Doing this in intervals of three minutes during the day will help you to feel calmer, and doing this five to 10 minutes before bed can help aid sleep.

Alcohol is an immediate relaxant, but it is also a depressant and negatively impacts the quality of sleep. Think about the other things which could affect your sleep patterns:

• Eating a large meal before bed

• Drinking caffeine

• Doom-scrolling on social media

• Taking stimulants

For some, the commute home can be the perfect opportunity to start winding down post-shift – reading a book, or listening to a podcast or relaxing music.


Time management (or lack of ) in work and our personal lives can be something that increases stress levels, overwhelm us and is a predicament for many hospitality professionals.

We can’t change how many hours there are in a day, but we can change how we utilise the time we do have to feel more in control. Write everything down that you need to do. Go through the list and rearrange it into the order of priority. Some things need immediate attention and some can wait, but scheduling them into your diary gives you a clearer head space. Think about how much time you are spending on social media. Would this be better spent doing some self-care? Zoning-out in front of the TV can help us unwind post-shift, but try spending 10 minutes doing breathing exercises or calling a friend instead and notice how that feels.

Turn your ‘should’ into ‘could’

Lastly and above all, be kind to yourself. The reality is that you are human and will have days when you feel so tired that your self-care goes out the window. Thoughts such as “I should be eating healthier”.... “I should be exercising instead of sitting on the sofa” are natural but make us feel unmotivated and, ultimately, worse about ourselves.

Instead, turn your ‘should’ into ‘could’ and ask yourself: “What could I do?” As an example, you may not feel like a run or the gym but perhaps you could do lower-impact exercises such as yoga or walking as this can actually help you to feel more recharged and calmer long term.

Most articles on wellbeing preach similar things: eat well, sleep well, exercise, connect with others and do something you enjoy. The reason for this is because they are the fundamental building blocks for a sustainable life. We all have a common goal – to be happy and well. Looking after our wellbeing is the closest path on this pursuit.

» Merly Kammerling is an integrative therapist and mental-wellbeing-in-the-workplace trainer. Contact her @wellandbeinglondon and for in-person training and 1-2-1 therapeutic support for hospitality teams.