The food and beverage industry, as well as the entertainment industry, can be exciting and fast-paced, especially if you love interacting with people, and you’re more of a night owl. Working in a bar, restaurant or entertainment venue can have its downsides too though.
It’s tough to maintain a schedule and stay safe and healthy when you’re doing shift work of any kind, and particularly when it’s in the food and beverage industry.
You’re facing odd working hours that can disrupt your natural rhythm, you’re tempted by food and drinks that might be less than healthy, and you often find yourself driving home at all hours of the night. The following are both safety and health tips to keep you on-track if you work in food and beverage.
Driving at Night
One of the biggest risks of shift work, regardless of the industry, is driving at night and especially while you’re tired. You take the general risks of driving, such as experiencing a tire blowout, and you add extreme fatigue, and the potential that you’re sharing the road with people who are also tired or under the influence.
A study conducted by a team of researchers from Boston and Australia looked at the specific risks of driving home after working a night shift.
The study found that driving was dangerously worse for participants who were doing so after work, as compared to having a full nights’ sleep.
More than 37% of study volunteers had near-crashes during a driving test, and the safety supervisors participating in the research had to use their emergency brakes to prevent a collision.
While some shift workers and nighttime workers will rely on caffeine to help them during their drive home, it might be better to focus more on getting quality sleep when they’re able, between their shifts.
There may also be prescribed medications that can help if you speak to your doctor about your work schedule and the effects you think it might have on your driving.
Healthy Coping Mechanisms for Stress
When you think about being a bartender or server, it might seem fun, but according to U.S. News & World Report, bartending is one of the most stressful jobs. It falls right alongside jobs like paramedic and anesthesiologist in terms of stress.
Interacting with people, and especially intoxicated people, all the time can be extremely stressful.
You can have people who are angry and belligerent, and unfortunately, you may also deal with sexual harassment in some situations.
You’re always multitasking, and it can be a physically demanding job.
You have to find ways to deal with your stress in healthy and productive ways. For example, maybe you get regular massages, or you ensure that you’re getting exercise. Yoga and meditation can be hopeful also.
Your nervous system needs the chance to rest when you’re always “on” at work.
Taking care of your stress in physically healthy ways is important not only for your mental health but bartenders and servers often deal with stress injuries such as back problems and carpal tunnel, so you want to stave off these effects as much as possible.
If you’re in the moment and you’re feeling the pressure, learn how to slow your breathing, and do grounding exercises.
It can be tempting when you work in the food and beverage industry, and you’re constantly surrounded by alcohol and in some cases, drugs, to use these as coping mechanisms. It’s so important to avoid self-medicating in these ways.
Just as much as you may be surrounded by temptations, including alcohol, the same may hold true for food.
You may get free or discounted meals as part of your job, and there could be plenty of decadent but possibly not so healthy choices that are waiting around every corner, quite literally. If you’re working long, irregular hours and you’re hungry, and on the go, it can make you more likely to go for the wrong food choices.
Bring your own meals and snacks from home if possible, and try to choose foods that are fresh and high in protein.
Eat your main meal of the day before you head to work, and then once you get home from work if you’re feeling hungry, have a light snack to help you sleep.
Drink more water throughout your shifts so you aren’t dehydrated, and this can also help you feel more energetic. Cut down on caffeine if possible because it can cause you to crash and it can also make it harder to sleep when you’re already dealing with strange sleep patterns.
Some servers find that it’s a good idea to have what they call an emergency food kit, which means they have a stash of healthy options they always keep on hand if hunger strikes unexpectedly.
People who work in restaurants, bars, and the entertainment industry are often victims of sexual harassment and even assault, so personal safety is an issue as well.
If you ever feel uncomfortable, ask for help right away. If it’s a pervasive problem, you should speak to your boss.
You also want to make sure you keep an eye out for harassment or abuse that could be happening to other people, whether that’s your coworkers or customers.
When you’re walking out to your car at the end of a shift, never go alone. Don’t be afraid to ask someone you trust to walk you out and be vigilant to make sure there’s no one waiting in the parking lot.
Many restaurants and bars are working on training their staff to recognize and combat sexual harassment in all areas of the workplace. For example, there are seminars that some food and beverage workers are being required to participate in so they know what to watch for and how to help someone who may need it.
Above all else, take time for yourself. Try to rest when you can and recharge your own energy so that you can provide great service to others.