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A Message of Hope for the Hospitality Industry: COVID-19 effects on mental health

All of us are living through a global health pandemic like we’ve never seen in our generation. Restaurants, bars, cafes, nightlife clubs and hotels around the world have been mandated closed for an indefinite length of time. All sectors of the economy are facing unprecedented challenges. COVID-19 is not something that the hospitality, food and beverage service industry could have planned for or predicted. There was no way to accurately forecast or budget for this unprecedented situation.

In this time of anticipatory grief and transition, we have been given a rare opportunity to stop and reflect. This is a time to reimagine and grow beyond the archaic principles and systems that no longer serve us. The food and beverage industry is not held together by menus, culinary products or ingredients, it is made up by people. Human connection is more important than ever, despite our physical distance. We prefer the term physical distancing because it is imperative that we remain socially connected. Isolation is an enemy of mental health. Just as we accept that all of us have physical health, we must acknowledge our mental health. Our minds are inside of our bodies and it’s crucial that we nurture both. Even though almost all services and businesses are closed, our community is not cancelled.

There is a collective grief that we’re adjusting to. No one is immune to feeling fear or pain from the loss of normalcy and the weight of the economic toll. The end is not in sight and the future of our industry is uncertain. Let’s take this time to reevaluate and reimagine what our workplace environments can look and feel like when we reopen.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the foodservice and hospitality industry in a unique way. The stress of continuing to support the community by serving food, in addition to these uncertain economic times means that those on the frontlines in our industry are facing a difficult set of circumstances. Those who have lost employment because of the pandemic are left with an undetermined future.

As a result of the pandemic we have hundreds of thousands of workers across the country and millions around the world left feeling helpless and in a state of stress, isolation, depression and anxiety. We’ve compiled and curated lists of free and low-cost resources to access online and by phone to manage mental health and addiction with options for Canada and the US.

We’ve also outlined some coping tips to offer relief, encourage calm and connection:

  • Check in. Check in with yourself and your community, frequently! Pay attention to your thoughts. Text, call, or video chat, whatever works. Isolation is difficult.
  • Active listening.  Empathize, even if you don’t agree. All of us want to be heard but don’t necessarily want advice.
  • Leverage technology. Use apps or software to connect with your community and explore online mental health and addiction resources. Try online therapy.
  • Spend time in nature. Get outside for fresh air.
  • Move your body. Physical exercise, gentle or rigorous is vital. Whatever works, just move.
  • Eat well. Be mindful of what you eat. Use food to boost your immune system. Avoid eating different shades of brown or beige.
  • Limit your social media and news intake. Set limited time to avoid endless scrolling. Get news from credible sources and curate your feeds.
  • Make a new routine. Try to schedule your time to include what’s important to you. Create predictability in your day.

We need to show up for ourselves and each other. We are presented with a crisis that we will only overcome if we unite and share messages of hope. All of us must turn toward the suffering to serve and help those around in whatever way we can, as we always have. This is what we have been trained for, we know how to do this. Our industry always shows up to serve and give to others, this is our time to do it for ourselves and our own.

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