I’ve worked in the service industry for long enough to know how easy it is to forget about serving yourself. I’ve delivered pizzas, hosted, bussed, waited tables until the late hours, bartended until the morning hours and now, I actually wait tables in the morning hours on purpose. As someone who is literally making a living by meeting the needs of customers, I often neglected my own.
This applies to anyone who has found their self becoming a workaholic under the umbrella of taking care of other people. Whether it’s a manager calling you in on your day off, having to stay later than usual because a table decided to stay or having a customer complain to you about something beyond your control, we’ve all been there. Whether you are a hairstylist, massage therapist or you work in the food service industry, you know exactly how draining it can be to work weird hours and commit to making everyone else happy behind a forced smile. More often than not, my smile is genuine and that’s because I’ve learned to take care of me.
Here are some tips for how I’ve found it possible to create that genuine contentment and cultivate a life full of good energy while making a living in the service industry.
- Reclaim your morning.
You might not go to work until 4 in the afternoon or you might get up at 4 am for your shift. It doesn’t matter what time you are waking up; but it does matter that you have a few things that make you feel like the day is yours to own.
I would say pick three things to do every morning.
Some examples could be: making a cup of coffee or tea, meditating or praying, making yourself food/packing snacks, playing a podcast, lighting incense, stretching, playing music, breathing exercises, glancing over your calendar, etc. Any of these will work.
It’s so easy to fling yourself out of bed 20 minutes before your shift, throw on some clothes and go. I say take 25 minutes. Start by adding just 5 minutes of personal ritual to your morning. It will shape your day and set the tone for how you approach your shift.*Try this: set up your coffee maker, set out your uniform and write out your to-do list the night before. Transitioning to creating a morning all your own can start the night before and will open up more time for you the next day to do other morning rituals.
- Stretch and rehabilitate.
You’re always on your feet. I know you want gorgeous legs but if you don’t take care of them, they’ll be decked out in varicose veins by the time you’re 30. Maybe you already have them and you’re looking to tend to them?Stretch out before your shift; you’re going to a shift that will have you monotonously walking back and forth but you’ll still be burning calories. Carrying plates on the same arm/overloading what you carry is going to wear on your body. Ask for help at work. Working in the service industry means everything is always in a time crunch, but that doesn’t mean you should break your back to get things done. Ask yourself, is it really worth it to run while carrying this bucket of ice?
Stretch after your shift too. The amount of time you are willing to spend stretching is the amount of rehabilitation you will experience. You won’t feel as stiff and sore the next day. Even if it’s only 10 minutes before and after, it will make a difference.
*Try this: lie on the floor with your legs/feet against the wall. This will reverse the blood flow and reduce any swelling. It also will help you wind down, relax and fall asleep after a shift.
- Limit your alcohol intake. And drink some damn water.
I know, it sounds crazy. There’s unlimited soda everywhere. Plus servers love to get drinks after a tough shift. And there’s usually going to be drugs around you. You’re going to encounter it regularly. Point blank period. Not hating, just stating. I have found that I performed my best at work when I wasn’t hungover; sounds like common sense right?
That is quickly forgotten in the world of restaurants and bars. There’s nothing wrong with going out for drinks when you feel you’ve really earned it. But did you really earn it the last 5 nights in a row?Find something else to do with people you enjoy being around after work or simply go home. You aren’t missing anything new and nothing good ever happens after midnight. If you think you’re forming an addiction, seek help. Chances are you could just be over indulging due to the environment but it’s always great to have support. The people that matter won’t judge you and those that do, don’t matter.
- Have a hobby outside of your job.
I can’t stress this one enough. This one will motivate you. This one will give you the energy to keep going on those days where it seems like you’re beyond over giving all your energy to people you barely know. It will give you something to do besides shoot the shit with your coworkers on your days off. It will help you form meaningful relationships with others beyond your place of employment. It will give you a general sense of joy and well being that work and money simply cannot offer.*Try this- pick one activity, hobby or skill and choose to actively engage in it once a week. Do this for a month. Rather than meter your progress, at the end of the month reflect on how you have changed instead.
- Take advantage of your ability to take time off.
In most cases, you’ll be able to request a day off here and there or a weekend or even a week, if you give enough time. Maybe this is only your temporary job or maybe this is your forever job.
Either way, you have the ability to grant yourself free time, which most other jobs don’t allow. Take advantage of that. The money will always be there, the work place won’t crumble without you.
People that travel/take time off are usually more devoted to maintaining a strong work ethic when they are at work. It’s because travel and time off promotes a more positive state of mind. And if you’re feeling good inside, you’re more likely to put your best foot forward at work.*Try this: Request one day off per month. Of course you will have other days off. Yet you should still set aside one day per month, just to play hooky, to reset.
- Get comfortable.
I’ve worked jobs where I had to wear booty shorts and panty hose and jobs where I wore slacks and dress shirts. I still found it possible to customize my uniform so that it was comfortable for my body. It comes down to wearing fabrics that feel good on my skin, not wearing anything too tight, and getting a great pair of shoes. I’m always willing to spend a decent amount of money on comfortable shoes because if my feet hurt then I’m not in a good mood. If I’m not in a good mood, I’m not going to make money!*Try this: essential oils like peppermint and lavender are so relaxing and soothing. You can apply them to the bottoms of your feet, wrists and behind your ears before and during your shift to consistently feel good. It’s like icy-hot but more soothing and smells great!
I hope these tips help! If you have any questions about my suggestions, feel free to ask.
Thanks for reading, much love.