Physical toolkit


Working in hospitality is great, but sometimes working so hard to look after other people (especially over the busy festive period) can mean neglecting to look after yourself. That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye on your nutrition and exercise.

One of the key ways to stay healthy is by having a well-balanced diet which provides our body with the vital nutrients that help it to function properly and maintain a healthy weight.

What we eat also has a direct effect on our blood sugar levels, which in turn can influence our moods and how we feel. That’s why even on a busy Christmas shift it’s important to take some time for something to eat that’ll keep you going.

According to the NHS, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure a better-balanced diet. They include:

  • Eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • Basing meals on higher-fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta.
  • Eating some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins.
  • Choosing unsaturated oils and spreads in small amounts.
  • Drinking at least 6 to 8 glasses of fluids per day.
  • Having some dairy or dairy alternatives.

To maintain a healthy weight, the NHS advise that men should aim to consume around 2,500 calories per day, while women should have around 2,000 calories.


Going hand in hand with a good diet, is getting enough exercise, which carries with it a host of potential health benefits.

Current advice from the UK Chief Medical Officers says that people aged 19 to 64 should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity (such as brisk walking or cycling) or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity (such as running) every week.

If you struggle to fit exercise in around a busy schedule, which hospitality staff can often find is the case around Christmas, then consider making it part of your everyday routine by walking or cycling instead of using the car to get around, if you can.

Fortunately, a lot of roles in hospitality do involve moving around but if you do sit or stay inactive for long periods of time during your work, try to break it up with short periods of light activity if possible. Sitting down for long periods of time has been shown to be an independent risk factor for poor health.

If you sit at a desk for long periods of the day, try getting up and moving about each time you make or answer a call. There’s also a range of stretches you can carry out while sitting to encourage you to take some light exercise while at work, as well helping you to avoid musculoskeletal problems.

But remember, if you are on your feet for long periods of a time, or constantly on the go, it’s just as important to have a good amount of rest to avoid exhaustion.

Better sleep

A lack of sleep can lead to higher blood pressure and to the body producing higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Our brain development and function is also affected by a loss of sleep and there is a link between sleep problems and poor mental health.

The common misconception is that we all need seven to eight hours of sleep a night. In reality, some people can function on as little as four hours, while others need as much as 10. It’s really down to knowing your own body on how much sleep is enough for you. It’s important to remember though that sleep powers the mind, rests and restores the body and reduces stress.

The amount of sleep we need changes naturally with age, but how we are feeling can also affect it. Stress, anxiety or depression can all have a negative impact as well as practical reasons like shift work or having a baby or young child.

Three factors can affect your sleep, so it’s worth considering each of them to see if changes can help you to sleep better:


How long is it since you changed your mattress? Is your room dark enough? Is it too hot or too cold? Is someone else in the room keeping you awake? Is there anything you can do to reduce disturbance and external noise?


Try not to worry too much about sleep – this can affect you negatively. If problems are keeping you awake, get out of bed and write down possible solutions to them. The change of scenery may also help – nothing is worse than tossing and turning in bed trying in vain to get to sleep.


Regular exercise and eating healthily can play a big part in how we sleep. Avoid caffeine at least four hours before going to bed. Smoking is also a stimulant. Alcohol may help us to fall asleep but disturbs our deep sleep. Getting into a regular routine can also help your body to know where it is.

Quick tips to improve your sleep

  • Have a bath
  • Breathing exercises
  • Visualise sleep
  • Reduce muscle tension
  • Try different foods
  • Herbal remedies
  • Relaxing music

Managing anger

It’s well known that tempers can flare at work – the kitchen in particular. Anger can be driven by all sorts of emotions running under the surface: anxiety, confusion, depression or helplessness to name just a few.

Although anger is often labelled as bad or negative it is a normal, healthy emotion. But it becomes problematic when it is expressed in unhelpful ways, or repressed and grows into resentment. Anger is a potent feeling and our fear of it is often more concerned with the possibility of losing control or saying or doing something we later regret, whether that’s by damaging our relationships at home, or harming our career and working relationships.

Recognise when you’re angry

  • Shallow breathing
  • Faster heart rate
  • Feeling hot
  • Persistent thinking, unable to let things go
  • Tensed muscles, clenched jaw and teeth grinding
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Going quiet and shutting down
  • Desire to insult or criticise others

Dealing with strong feelings


Instead of acting immediately on your anger you can use some simple strategies to give yourself time to calm down and think, these can help to prevent reacting impulsively:

  • Count to ten
  • Slow your breathing down, breathe out for longer than you breathe in
  • Leave the situation if you can, take a walk or get some fresh air
  • Speak to a supportive friend or colleague
  • Write down what you are feeling, this can often lead to more clarity
  • Maintain perspective – things that anger us can range from minor to very significant. To keep things in perspective, keep in mind your ultimate goal and the overall purpose in what you are doing.

Other ways that can help to reduce anger are:

Get regular exercise

Exercise releases feel-good/happy hormones and gives us energy to get through our daily lives.

Maintain a good work/life balance

Ensure that you make time for the things that are important to you and make you feel good.

Avoid reliance on alcohol or other addictive substances

While a drink or two or more after work may help you to feel better in the short term it can have long term health consequences.

Get enough sleep

Make it a priority to maintain a regular bedtime. Adopt a relaxing bedtime routine so that your body receives a nightly signal to switch off.

Eat a healthy diet

Talk about your feelings

Talking to someone you trust; feeling understood by them and having your feelings acknowledged can remind you that you are not alone.

If you’re struggling and wish to seek help or advice please contact our dedicated helpline on

 0808 802 0282

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