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Managing Stress In The Culinary World

Research has acknowledged the prevalence of work-related stress among chefs. It’s no secret that being in a high-pressure environment with odd hours can take its toll. It’s therefore vital that youngsters considering the profession understand it well and also learn stress management techniques to care for their mental wellbeing.


Knowing what ticks you off or stresses you out will help you manage situations better. Since every individual is different, there’s no set list. Perhaps it’s a whole lot of noise at one time or a messy kitchen. You could take a few deep breaths to regroup, ensure you set up your space exactly as you like it or hum a tune that helps you calm down. The best way to find your stressors is to look back at the end of each day and note down when you felt out of sorts and what got you there.


The kitchen is like a battlefield. It can get messy and disorienting, but an organised attack by way of teamwork works best. But to ensure you keep it together, make sure your mise en place is in order and your station is organised and neat. Wipe up immediately, clear dirty dishes swiftly and sanitise regularly. Keep spare knives, gloves and dish towels at hand, and work as efficiently as possible.


When you are away from work, leave the stresses behind. Take care of your body and mind. Ensure you eat a healthy diet and avoid junk food at least 80 per cent of the time. Include physical exercise into your day at least five days a week and ensure you clock in the recommended amount of quality sleep. Schedule a yearly medical check up to stay on top of your health, and engage in hobbies whenever possible. Do not abuse substances, and speak to a doctor before self medicating with sleeping pills, painkillers and antacids. 


Sometimes a change of workplace can make a world of difference. You might enjoy working in the formal setting of an haute cuisine restaurant or prefer the more laidback and friendly vibe of a cafe. You could lean towards more predictability in the peak hours afforded in institutions such as the cafeteria in a large hospital or cooking in a residential school. Or you might like the multi-cultural diversity and excitement that comes with cruise ship chef jobs. Work that’s enjoyable is usually less stressful. So choose your setting accordingly when hunting for jobs.


Your mind is most vulnerable to stress, although we often notice the effects only once it hits the body. When you feel overwhelmed, try taking a few moments to yourself with some deep breathing. Give yourself space with a bit of meditation every day. And if you find yourself at a loose end at work, take a quick walk to refresh your mind.


If you find it difficult to cope with the stress, speak to a trusted friend, colleague, supervisor or spouse. It can help to voice your concerns, even if all they do is listen. The best option is to speak with a therapist who will help guide you just the way a doctor does when you’re physically ill. 

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