markbennett

According to research, the average professional has 30 to 100 work-related projects on their plate. They’re interrupted seven times an hour and distracted up to 2.1 hours a day. Adding to this, 4 out of 10 people working at large companies are experiencing a major corporate restructuring, and therefore facing great uncertainly about their futures. This may be why more than 40% of adults admit to lying awake at night plagued by the stressful events of the day. Sound familiar?

But a stressful work environment doesn’t mean doom and gloom. We chat with Mark Bennet, Head Chef at the award-winning Esca Bimbadgen, who knows exactly what a stressful day at the office is all about – working in a job that demands unflagging commitment and energy, gruelling hours and inflexible deadlines.

Mark shares his top tips on dealing with an overwhelming workload and keeping cool in an ever-changing environment that pulls you from every direction.

Get outside
Being outdoors for some period of the day has an amazing power to calm and connect us with our roots. Light exercise can be a great release for stress even if its as simple as walking the dog in the early morning along your street with the sunrise and the birds singing. It is a great way to create a clear slate in your head and organise your thoughts. Even heading down to the beach and strolling barefoot through the sand with the waves of the ocean in the background has a strong power to instantly relieve symptoms of stress.

Sleep well
Getting enough sleep seems counter productive. You are busy and you have lots to do, so sleep more. Plenty of experts say that a lack of sleep can make us more stressed and ultimately less productive. Everybody’s sleep demands are different, some people thrive on 6 hours sleep whilst other need a full 8 hours. When you are assessing how much sleep you need, be true to yourself. If you only ever get 6 hours sleep and you are always relying on coffee to be awake and are constantly irritable and tired, chances are you are the sort of person who needs 8 hours sleep.

Organisation
It’s amazing how just being organised reduces the pressure placed on you. Planning your workday with realistic work loads and goals can make you much more productive and breaks down a seemingly large task into small little pieces. This is how chefs manage to prepare large amounts of food for large amounts of people to serve in a short amount of time, organisation. A prep list at the start of the day helps chefs to be much more productive then just jumping from job, to job as they arise. Tackling large amounts of your workload and being productive in your day, greatly reduces the amount of stress you feel.

Prepare for potential problems that may arise
Preparing for things that might go wrong helps tremendously to ease your mind. This is as simple as just having a plan should something not work out the way you intended. In the kitchen we always prepare for the unexpected, just by talking about what dietary substitutes we may be able to offer people, should they come and dine, rather then leaving the discussion to when the situation arises.

Remember what is important
Yes your job is important and without it, it would be very hard to pay the bills and do all the things that you enjoy. However do not let work get in the way of enjoying your life. We all work, so that we can live. We don’t live, so that we can work. Take time off to enjoy your life. I tell my new apprentices working in a kitchen is tough and stressful at times. Always remember to maintain a lifestyle outside of work. If all you do is eat, sleep and work you will burn yourself out and leave the industry before your career even starts. No one’s job can substitute for all that life has to offer. Get up early and do something before your shift starts, embrace your days off and see your family and friends. It’s the little things that will keep you grounded and happy in the industry for years to come.

How do you cope with a stressful work environment?