With any new year, comes new questions. You get a chance to reflect on who you have been for the past 12 months (or, in this case, the past ten years too) and make sure you build on the things you did well, whilst avoiding repeating the same mistakes again.
We hear from a lot of colleagues around the world that 2019 was a tough year for them personally and want you to know that Today’s World Kitchen is not just a community for chefs to share ideas, recipes, and news, we also want to share guides and information that will help you in other ways. The following tips are based on a simple idea: Burnout is real! Be kind to yourself, you can’t do your best work when you’re not in your best shape.
The signs of chef burnout can be relatable to that of the common physician’s burnout. Long hours and endless work can make any job tiresome, so be sure to look out for these signs of chef burnout.
– Irritability. If you find that you are overly irritable or having difficulty controlling your anger, you may be experiencing chef burnout.
– Annoyed. If customers and sous chefs are starting to annoy you or you recognize that you are starting to criticize your sous chef, you may be burnt out and need to take a break. Ask yourself – is this what I’m really like? Don’t trust your emotions, challenge them. If feeling this annoyed is uncommon for you, perhaps it’s not what’s going on OUTSIDE of you, but what’s going on INSIDE.
– Depression. Although your depression may not relate to cooking or being a chef, if you have been overworked lately and suddenly feel depressed, it may be due to chef burnout.
Act Before It’s Too Late
It is always best to acknowledge the symptoms of chef burnout and try to assuage the situation before it escalates. If you know that you have been working a lot, take a hiatus for a week in order to relax and take a breather, in order to prevent chef burnout.
If you are already feeling the effects of chef burnout, you can take the following measures:
- Take a break. It may be time for you to take some time off. When you take a break don’t just spend a week on your couch; go out and travel, experience other culinary worlds, or take your friends and family on a trip somewhere fun.
- Speak to someone. Talk to your companion, friends, place of establishment, and other chefs about how you are feeling and allow them to give you advice on how to properly cope with the situation. If you are upfront with the establishment that you work for, as well as your sous chefs and team, everyone will be more inclined to recommend that you take a vacation while they hold down the fort.
What If It’s Already Too Late?
It is never really too late to deal with chef burnout because it is all mental. However, if you feel as if you need a break from the culinary profession in general, request some time off to have a break, clear your mind, and really think about whether it was chef burnout or that you have changed your mind about being a chef completely.
The chefs in Today’s World Kitchen‘s community recommend the following:
Change your routine. Switch up the way that you do things as a chef. Are you typically unorganized in the kitchen? Try getting organized and reorganizing the kitchen in a way that is more functional and will prevent distress. Change the way you prepare for the day, like implementing meditation before heading in to the restaurant for the day. Change the way that you prepare some meals – switching up the routine could help you find a better approach to a dish, in order to orchestrate it more efficiently and reduce stress. Explore new recipes. Bring the fun back to cooking by exploring new dishes and recipes, possibly turning your recipes into a cookbook if you have not already.
Find life outside of the kitchen. As a professional chef, it is important that you have a life outside of the kitchen. If you are experiencing chef burnout, try not cooking at all at home. Leave the cooking for work and go out for dinner and on the weekends in order to be treated like the customer for once. Be sure to use your vacation time and set aside time for friends and family to have fun.
Overall we want you to know that it’s totally normal to experience changes in your mental health. In many cases it shows that your body is doing exactly what it was designed to do when put under severe pressure. The trick is, to work with your mind and body and give it the space it needs to return to the most effective state for you. Calm, present and ready to roll out all of the exciting things you have planned for the future.
Welcome to 2020, be kind to yourself!