Mental Health at Work: Take Care of Yourself in Hospitality


We´re all familiar with the airline safety protocol that tells you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs. The point of the advice is clear: if you haven’t taken care of yourself, you won’t be able to help the people around you. The same logic applies to your mental health and personal wellbeing while pursuing a hospitality career.

When you work in hospitality, your main goal is delivering excellent customer service and making sure guests are happy at all times. However, this constant focus on the happiness of others may lead you to overlook your own mental health, and it could end in burnout if you’re not careful.

Hospitality jobs can be incredibly rewarding. They let you connect with many different types of people and provide guests with special experiences they will remember for years to come. 

Working in hospitality can also be incredibly stressful. You can be faced with long hours, rude guests, and low entry-level salaries, all of which can come together to crush your spirits – if you let this happen.

Maintaining your mental health in hospitality isn’t impossible, though. There are things you can do to create a more equitable and supportive workplace where your boss recognizes your hard work, treats you with respect, and compensates you fairly. 

Negotiate a Better Salary

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can help reduce stress and allow you to live a more comfortable life. Working in a job where you feel that you aren’t being paid for your true value is demoralizing and makes it hard to find the motivation to deliver results. 

That’s why it’s extremely important to negotiate a salary that you believe is fair and allows you to focus on your job instead of what’s missing from your paycheck.

Before you start negotiating, it’s important to prepare thoroughly so you can go into the negotiation with confidence and give yourself the best chance to succeed. 

Make a list of concrete accomplishments/results you can use to support your cause, do research to see what the average salaries are like in your market, and make sure that you are doing everything you can to sell yourself and your special skills. This is also a great time to discuss potential career progression and what the next step of your path with the company will be.

Paying close attention to market trends can help you determine the best time to ask for a raise. 

Build Your Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) is an extremely important trait to have when working in the hospitality industry. It’s an industry full of human beings working hard to make other people happy, no matter what, so it’s vital to be able to read and respond to the emotional state of your guests as well as your co-workers.

A high emotional IQ will make you a valuable team member and leader. You will be able to tell when coworkers are having a difficult time and react in a way that shows you care about what they are going through and want to help them succeed. 

“Empathy means you have the ability to sense others’​ feelings; have a desire to understand how they see things; and take an active interest in their concerns,” says Daniel Goleman, the world’s leading expert on emotional intelligence, in his article The 12 Competencies of Emotional Intelligence.

Being empathetic to your coworkers and actively listening to them to better understand their needs or concerns means communication will be more productive – and the team will collaborate better. 

If you are sous chef and one of your chefs de partie comes into work in an uncharacteristically bad mood, you should talk to them to see how they are feeling and what you can do to support them both inside and outside of the kitchen.

People with strong EI are highly adaptable. They are open to change or new ideas and will try to find creative solutions to any problems that may arise. Emotionally intelligent people can also take constructive criticism well and apply it to improve themselves and those around them.

Managers and team members who are emotionally intelligent will help others feel recognized as individuals and create a more equitable working environment. 

Create Equity, Not Equality

Equality may seem like a positive thing, but treating every person in a company the exact same way can flatten out people’s dynamic qualities, and result in them feeling that they don’t have an individual voice or identity. 

Instead of an equal workplace, you should do your best to find a job where worker equity is a core part of the company’s philosophy. 

An equitable working environment recognizes that a company is made up of unique individuals from a variety of cultural, racial, or ethnic backgrounds, and treating them with a one-size-fits-all attitude would undermine the goal of building a cohesive team.

“Equity is harder because it requires more work from the organization and its leaders, but the cost of turnover is higher than the cost to drive great equity,” says Amelia Ransom, senior director of engagement and diversity at Alvara, in an interview with HRTechnologist.

Equity doesn’t only have to come from the management. As an employee, it’s important to understand your teammates’ strengths and weaknesses so you can put them in a position to succeed.

If you are a head receptionist and one of your front desk team members is a bit introverted but highly organized, you should recognize this and assign them the more organizational tasks instead of forcing them to constantly interact with guests. 

Identifying your team’s strengths and being flexible will help you get the most out of each member’s unique set of skills. 

Look After Yourself Outside of Work

Although it’s important to advocate for yourself, build your emotional intelligence, and create equity in your workplace, it’s just as important to take care of yourself in your off time. 


Hospitality work often involves long, physically demanding shifts where you are constantly up on your feet moving around and lifting things. The last thing you might want to do outside of work is more exercise, but that would be a mistake that could leave your body aching even more. 

A healthy body will make the more physically demanding parts of the job easier to handle. You don’t have to train for a triathlon but practicing yoga/pilates, riding a bike, or some other form of low impact exercise can help you stay fit and ready for long shifts.

Disconnect and Reconnect

After a long day at work it can be tempting to unwind by sitting in front of the TV and watching something easily digestible, often while scrolling through social media on your phone.

This may be an easy escape from the stresses of the day, but spending so much time on social networks or consuming other forms of internet media can have dire consequences for your mental health.

As we grow more addicted to our mobile devices it’s important to take time to consciously disconnect from social media and reconnect with friends, family, and the world around us.

Maintaining strong personal relationships is one of the keys to sustained happiness, so on days off you should try to spend time with your close friends or loved ones. Having a coffee with your favorite uncle or going on a hike in nature with a good buddy can do a lot to help you keep yourself in a positive mental state.

Eat Well

Working in hospitality burns a lot of energy, both physical and mental. It’s extremely important to give yourself every advantage to succeed during long shifts by ensuring that you are eating a healthy and balanced diet.

It’s tempting to just throw some food in your face before your shift or during break to keep you going but you should be aware of what you’re consuming. Instead of fried or carb-heavy foods, try to eat balanced meals with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables that will provide you with more sustained energy while you’re on the clock. 

If you are given a shift meal from the kitchen, ask the chef for a healthy and hearty dish that will keep you going and help you avoid crashing halfway through the work day. 

Pursue a Passion

For some people, work truly is their passion and they love every second of that daily grind. But for every person like this, there are just as many who are extremely passionate about things outside of their working world. 

Whether it be volunteering at an animal shelter, playing in a band, cooking at home, travelling the world or one of the countless other things that give our lives meaning, it can be incredibly satisfying to find something outside of work which lights a fire inside of you and pursue it as much as you can. 

In a dynamic and high pressure industry like hospitality, there are no perfect solutions for maintaining your mental health. Situations always change, and the methods you use to minimize stress and anxiety as an entry level employee may not be effective as you move up the ladder. You should make it your goal to do what you can to create a healthy and equitable working environment for yourself – and the people you work with.

If you’re looking for further resources on how to manage your mental health and well-being, visiting the WHO resource section is a good place to start.



More related content EN


The Mindful Chef Nandan Bhoopalam Explains How Food is Memory

The Mindful Chef Nandan Bhoopalam Explains How Food is Memory

From fast finance to vegan vol-au-vents, Chef Nandan Bhoopalam’s life and career have been filled with cultural fusion and auspicious events. A life-altering experience and keen intuition led him from southern India through chef school in Switzerland to his adopted...

How to Plate Food Like a Pro: Top Tips from ICS’ Chef Andy Cordier

How to Plate Food Like a Pro: Top Tips from ICS’ Chef Andy Cordier

Are you tired of making food that tastes incredible but looks like it came out of a hospital cafeteria? We here at Hosco recently had the pleasure of co-presenting a masterclass entitled “Eating With Your Eyes - The Art of Plating” in partnership with International...

A Clean Slate: The Hotel Housekeeping Career Path

A Clean Slate: The Hotel Housekeeping Career Path

Returning from brunch to find a spotless room with fresh linens is a part of the hotel experience that many guests take for granted. However, if they open the door to a messy room, that could ruin their entire stay and lose the hotel money. The housekeeping department...

The Career Path of a Chef: A Journey Full of Opportunities

The Career Path of a Chef: A Journey Full of Opportunities

More than any other career path in hospitality, becoming a chef can give you prestige.  You may not know the name of the manager or owner of the hottest restaurant in town but you can probably name the most successful chefs in your city. If you sharpen your...

The Career Path of a Waiter/Waitress: An Exciting Journey

The Career Path of a Waiter/Waitress: An Exciting Journey

Everybody has to start somewhere in their professional life. Whether it be taking tickets and selling popcorn at a cinema or handing out flyers in the street, a first job can seem like nothing more than a temporary solution to your money problems. A common first job...

Front Desk to Front Office: Hotel Receptionist Career Path

Front Desk to Front Office: Hotel Receptionist Career Path

The reception area of a hotel is a dynamic place, with many moving parts that must come together to make sure guests are 100% satisfied with their experience.  If you are dedicated to delivering top customer service and have a keen eye for details, then the hotel...


Would you like to suggest a new topic?
Do you have any feedback that could help us improve this section?
Drop us an email at


Don’t miss our new articles and videos
and join Hosco today

Share This