Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once – Paulo Coelho
I invite you to ask yourself this question today, chef: How do you manage your life during those two extreme situations in your work? What are some of the things you do to support your wellbeing then? What is going well? What could you do better?
This is for you if you are in parts of the UK, Europe or other countries that are under lockdown during what should have been the start of our busy season. I cannot offer much consolation during this time of uncertainty, but I hope that these two suggestions will help to bring at least a small amount of relief to your day.
Whether your busy season has been delayed by a few weeks due to a lockdown, or whether it starts this week where you are based, the fact remains that it will still be demanding on us. To thrive means that we will need to do a few basic things to support our physical, mental and social wellbeing over the next few weeks.
Today’s webinar will focus on just that and serve as a reminder for you to be mindful of your needs during the period leading up to Christmas – something that you can lose sight of when you give your best to serving others.
Registration is still open, so please join me, chefs. There is a link in bio to sign up.
Your work-life balance actions for the next two months have to be pared down, yet effective enough to support you during the long, intense work days that make up the busy season. In this, our final webinar for the year, we look at some of the basic things (actions, mindset, supportive measures) you can do to support your wellbeing through this period.
Join me on the 2nd of November for this 30-minute training via Zoom. Please sign up via the link in bio.
Even if you are not currently working as much as you once used to, be conscious that at a time like this, there are more demands on your energy than there were before the pandemic. Not only does everything you do in everyday life take longer and need more careful attention, but you also have to constantly keep up with and adapt to changes in how you do them. Even if you currently spend a lot of your time contemplating your next career move, it might sound like a passive activity, but that mental activity also takes up a lot of your energy.
My message for you today is just to be conscious of the many ways in which you expend your energy and to make sure you keep doing whatever you can to support your wellbeing now – even if you do not feel like you are working hard enough by your standards.
Despite the messaging we get from our kitchen culture, our work and a fulfilling life outside it do not have to be mutually exclusive. We can take the steps to review that line of thinking, tune into what our thoughts and values are on that matter, and take the necessary actions to build the well-rounded lives that we might desire to live.
In this, the final workshop for 2020, we address all of the above. The training is designed so you get to work through each one of those steps, so you can build a vision for that well-rounded life. Furthermore, you are supported for three weeks following the workshop: you do not have to be working on your new positive habits in isolation.
This is a great opportunity for you to step into the busy season and then the new year with a healthy approach to work-life balance: no matter what your rotas look like. Join me for this 1.5 hour workshop next Monday delivered on Zoom. Please sign up via this link and DM if you have any questions.
Yes, there are many who say, “This is how it has always been done.” But we have to remember that as much as we stand on the shoulders of giants, those who went before us are counting on us to advance our profession and its culture.
Even before the pandemic struck, the sustainability of our careers and the profession itself felt like a battle to many chefs. This is the time for us to question the norms of our culture that do not serve us and let go of them. Then, perhaps, we can finally look forward to a quality of life that we are clearly denying ourselves now.
It is just a question of being honest and letting go: the vacuum will soon be filled by attitudes and ideas that will support us and ensure that we can keep doing what we love for as long as we wish, as part of a balanced, fulfilling life.
There is no dearth of resources and guidance out there for employers, so another list on this page will be of no relevance. What I want to highlight is that by placing an emphasis on work-life balance, employers can reverse negative effects of cultural attitudes that are doing no one in the industry any good: ideas around martyrdom and sacrifice that are expected if you want to work in a kitchen.
Because the work of a chef does not end with giving it your all during your shift. Ours is a physically and mentally demanding profession, and your self-care in between shifts determines how you show up in the kitchen. But unless employers subscribe to that truth, we can never get to the place where their staff fully take on their own responsibilities towards their wellbeing.
At a time when the entire world is in a state of flux and our circumstances change from one minute to the next, our resolve to stick to our positive habits and wellbeing rituals is being greatly challenged. What can you do?
If your fitness practices have suddenly been restricted by a lockdown or local regulations, you can find an an alternative that supports your health but still complies with the guidelines.
If you are working fewer hours than normal, you can try your best to take one day at a time. Make space for activities that help you stay present, especially when the past feels distant and the future so uncertain.
Maybe you are working longer hours than you were before Covid. Can you find a few minutes in your day to do nothing at all? It can be as little as 5-10 minutes if that is all you can afford.
This Work Life Week I invite you to take a moment to appreciate all that you do to support your work-life balance.
Acknowledge the sheer mental and physical effort it takes to balance your priorities as a chef: the tough choices and sacrifices you have to make, the invitations you have to decline, the last minute change of plans you have to account for. Not only do you have to juggle a demanding career alongside other responsibilities (parenting, partnerships, etc.), but you also have to navigate modern living, which is convenient but complicated. I hope you will be able to connect to these truths.
Below are what some of the chefs in this community have shared as practices that support their own wellbeing:
Chef Huda runs a baking business while dealing with health issues, so she builds relationships with her customers that allow her to work around those challenges
Chef Rudolf has used the support of another team member – they kept each other accountable to head home at the end of a shift to rest, instead of staying on longer than needed