Advice and Wellbeing. Coping with uncertainty

Life is uncertain even at the best of times. Whether it’s relationships, work, health or finances, change is always present. Working long hours in a kitchen, day in day out, only to suddenly find yourself at home on furlough is an extreme example. But that’s the new reality that thousands of people in the hospitality sector find themselves in amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought change in spades. It may feel overwhelming – but there are strategies you can use to help you cope.

We all deal with change differently. What is key is to acknowledge the changes. Then you can start to think about how to deal with the unexpected and cope in the best way possible. Some people find it easier to accept the unexpected than others. If you find it hard, it’s important to realise that acceptance is not the same as resignation. We don’t have to be completely passive in life but just like when you’re in a tight spot during service, it is helpful to work out what battles are worth fighting and what unchangeable realities we face.

Perception, control and resilience.

The way we perceive events is key. If you find your career or your personal life affected by the coronavirus pandemic, talk to someone about it. It will help you to gain perspective.

When you have fully acknowledged and reflected objectively on your situation, you are ready to take action. We can’t always choose what happens to us but we do have a choice about how we handle challenges. Consider what has helped you in the past and how you can best help yourself. What supports you in life and what soothes you in times of stress?

Generally, we can choose to face the uncertainty and work out how we might change the situation, or we can accept the uncertainty and think through how we can expand our capacity to cope. In an ideal world, we might think about how to combine both these options to increase our resilience while being realistic about our options.

How to make yourself more resilient:

  • Practice healthy habits and take responsibility for looking after yourself.
  • Get enough rest, exercise and maintain a healthy diet.
  • Invest time in reflecting on your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. You may not be able to see your friends, relatives or professionals but you can still reach out to them on the phone or through Zoom.

Image: Karim Manjra/Unsplash

What helps?

When you feel ready, shift your energies from the problem to potential solutions. If you’re someone for whom thinking is stimulated by others, ask for help or even think about online support groups or professional support if appropriate.

Remember, the only thing that is permanent is impermanency, so whatever you’re going through, this too shall pass. Use your energies to think how best to support yourself. If you’re good at caring for others but are less focused on your own self-care, have a think about how you would support a friend going through similar stages. Ask for help in the face of adversity, drawing strength from others can prove particularly valuable. Reach out to others in a similar situation; often charities and the public sector have support in place for people going through stressful periods in their life.

Sometimes we need people to really understand and empathise with our situation before we can look at how to move on. People who take up voluntary roles quickly add to their social network and often report a satisfaction and positivity from giving to others. The easiest thing to do in these circumstances is to withdraw, and this may prove the least helpful reaction.

Shouldering a crisis or challenge on our own can be isolating and worsen our situation. We all need others to a greater or lesser extent and you will be the best ambassador of what you need. The great paradox of life is that the more we are able to accept the twists and turns of life, the more we are able to cope and be resilient, and in turn, the better equipped we are to make the changes that we might desire.

How Hospitality Action can help.

Hospitality Action offers a range of onsite solutions to help work and manage with change, ensuring staff get the best support at the right time. Solutions include mediation, executive coaching on an individual or group basis, onsite redundancy support, careers coaching and training. Specialist consultants can also provide risk assessments, stress audits and bespoke training. For more practical advice you can call Hospitality Action (see details below).


Other resources.

Major changes are, with a bit of luck, few and far between, so if there’s any time in our lives we need extra care and support, from ourselves and others, it’s now.

Remember you can contact Hospitality Action 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to talk things through and organise more formal, structured support if helpful.

Recommended books:

Useful websites: Check out the free resources on Sleepstation, if you're asked for a password it's hospitality2020