Before we get into a lot of specific topics on mental health, I wanted to bring up the idea of mindfulness. In a nutshell, this is accepting your feelings, thoughts, and how your senses are perceiving your environment. It is a concept in therapy where the person practicing acknowledges and accepts the present. This can be practiced through meditation or simply noticing things in the moment, such as the weight of your phone or how you felt when someone paid you a compliment.
The importance of practicing mindfulness is broad. One of the most important reasons to practice is that it improves your ability to cope with stressful situations, therefore reducing your overall stress, depression, anxiety, and sleep problems. This simple practice of coping and being self-aware generally leads to a positive outlook on life and just feeling good!
This practice can be quite useful in the hospitality industry. We are expected to react in the moment while maintaining perfect composure towards our guests. Practicing mindfulness increases self-awareness and how we react to situations. If a guest were to tell you that your soup is salty, your immediate reaction is usually to respond quickly and defensively. Rarely have I seen new cooks take a moment to accept the feedback, calmly investigate, then correct the situation.
I want to take a moment to recognize that there are different types of mindfulness. Chewing gum or squinting when light is too bright is different than something like making eye contact in an uncomfortable situation. Its safe to assume that you do pay attention to squinting, and how the light is affecting you. Just take note of when it is happening. Understanding and repeating mindfulness in simple situations will make the more complex situations less daunting.
Instructions for Practicing Mindfulness:
1. Pay attention to one particular thing or event in your present moment. This can be something such as petting a dog or listening to a joke. Take note of how your dog is reacting to you, how soft it is, What is the tone of the joke teller?
2. Stay focused on the subject. Bringing yourself to the present is paramount to mindfulness. Notice when you start to wander, then bring yourself back to the moment.
3. Keep practicing. Live in the present!