La Maison Wellness founder and Mindful Cocktails creator Camille Vidal suggests ways to look after your mental and physical health throughout the hectic festive season.

I’m not sure how we got here so quickly, but the holiday season is right around the corner and soon the radio will start blasting songs about how Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. For many people it is... But it’s also the most challenging time of the year for our dear industry, with long hours and Christmas parties most days. So, how can we remain mindful throughout this intense time?

Look after yourself first

Prioritising your wellbeing is essential in order to function at your best. I’m not talking about the bubble bath or a piece of chocolate cake kind of self-care: I’m talking about making sure your needs are met before looking after others.

Make sure you’re eating well and enough, staying hydrated, taking breaks, stretching before and after your shifts and getting fresh air and as much sleep as you can. These are the foundations of your wellbeing and will allow you to perform at your very best; so if you are a manager reading this you might want to consider how you can implement good wellness practices among your staff, to support your team through this busy time.

Speak your mind

Talking and sharing is crucial to feel supported and to sustain good mental health. Connection is what we crave as humans, and especially in our industry of social beings. Ensure you connect with your friends, your team and open up about how you are feeling. Again, management teams: make sure you create an environment where people feel comfortable talking to you. Remember – happy team, happy guests!

Drink mindfully

Drinking is something we love in our industry as we are passionate about spirits and cocktails, but too often we use it as a way to push through, to escape and as a coping mechanism.

By drinking too much during a stressful period you are actually adding work to your body and your mind: your body with the extra toxins to process and recover from hangovers, but also your mind from what we call hangxiety (feeling anxious or overwhelmed while recovering from drinking). It can be tempting to have one too many shots and beers to decompress at the end of your shift, but bear in mind that what you might need the most is an alcohol-free alternative for your catch-up with the team, or even just to head home for some extra hours of sleep.

Find healthier ways to cope

Find other ways to cope with stress: get some fresh air and natural light before your shift, go for a walk with friends, exercise to get those happy endorphins kicking in, or introduce mindfulness such as meditation or breathing exercises.

Related article:

Box Breathing: inhale for four seconds, hold your breath in for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, hold your breath out for four seconds. This technique is used by athletes and doctors and is really helpful when feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

Alternatively, simply take a big breath in and out. Focus on your breath and allow the exhalation to be slightly longer, as this will calm the nervous system.

Rest when you can

Sleep is essential – we simply can’t operate well if we don’t sleep enough, so sleep and rest as much as you can. Allow moments of quiet and silence to be a part of your day and if you can, meditate. It is said that 20 minutes of meditation is the equivalent of four to five hours of sleep.

Remember, it’s just a phase

It’s not gonna last forever! Holiday season is just a phase and, while it’s a challenging one with intense hours for our industry, it is also one that bars and restaurants need – especially after the past 18 months that we’ve had.

When you’re starting to feel like you’ve had enough, remind yourself that January is around the corner and maybe try thinking of one thing a day that you’re grateful for. Studies show that practising daily gratitude helps to improve your mood and general wellbeing.

Enjoy what you can

Enjoy whatever you can, but also know it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Make sure you ask for support and prioritise yourself too.

I wish you all a healthy and happy holiday season and let’s share with the world the beauty and warmth of our hospitality industry.