The Ultimate Self-Care Checklist For Working In Hospitality

The Ultimate Self-Care Checklist For Working In Hospitality

What Otolo learnt from industry experts at EXP101. How can we maintain a healthy work-life balance, and which techniques enhance employee experience within the sector?

This January, we had the pleasure of attending the afternoon Managing Wellness in the Workplace, an event organised by events company EXP101 at the vibrant Huckletree Shoreditch in London. We had a fantastic day listening to hospitality professionals who talked us through some of the ways they handle challenges. Here’s a wrap of what they shared during the EXP101.

Take a step back

Craig Prentice, founder of now pause, founder of hospitality talent partner mum, and host of our Early Careers Livestream at Otolo 

The Mental Health Foundation found that 62% of adults in the UK have felt anxious or worried, before the first lockdown, with 30% who have felt afraid and 22% who panicked. The first step to ease that fear seemed to be to take a step back and pause for a second. That’s when Craig created now pause, a mental health toolkit amid the first lockdown: “We were all in a very vulnerable position. I remember sitting there, I didn’t know what to do to help people. I knew I needed to be here for people so I came up with the idea to create something free completely anonymous.”

Now pause is all about taking a step back and serving a purpose with two objectives:

Let’s take the pressure away from people.   

Pause for a second.   

Generally, it’s easier to react than respond, so how can we help professionals face their challenges at work? Craig started by introducing meditation: “I used to be cynical about meditation, I’ve been on a journey myself and it took me a while to get my head into it. It’s not only some fluffy idea.”

To expand these techniques and build his offering, Craig decided to work with an expert in wellbeing, Andrew Johnson, Wellbeing Coach: “I met Andrew at a conference. Andrew is amazing, he’s a voice behind a podcast, a guru. He’s got the most relaxing voice and provides really good techniques such as 5 minutes to recenter and refocus.”

With this new alliance came a compelling series of relaxation and meditation podcasts, for professionals to find their inner peace: “To educate our people, we aim to make meditation natural and accessible so we created a website and ten powerful podcasts. We normalised what we put together on Spotify, Apple. Just listen to it.”

Change your habits asap

Patrick Howley, Founder of So Let’s Talk, a new platform for like-minded hospitality professionals, to talk about mental health & addiction within the industry  

First, ask yourself these questions to have an idea of your current lifestyle:

When was the last time you had a home-cooked meal? 

When was the last time you connected with a loved one? 

How many hours did you sleep last night?  

How are you feeling today? 

So Let’s Talk run sessions for more than 4,000 hospitality professionals. Their vision? “86 the silence” to understand how we can be happy, and repeat. But there are four things to take into account to improve the hospitality sector’s poor mental health:

Culture / Society / Tech / Work


Sleep is more important than the rest, so it’s crucial for your health to prioritise it. Quick wins?

90 minutes before you go to sleep, disconnect and do something for yourself like reading a book. 

Don’t take your phone or any tech to the bedroom. 

Use no stimulants like tobacco, coffee or tea before bed. 

Get the right mattress, it’s important!


We know hospitality professionals lack time. It’s almost a 24/7 commitment! Limited amount of breaks and fast-food usually win. But did you know there are 86 ingredients in a Big Mac? Ewww. It’s not even food anymore. Even the salad is dehydrated!

How to reconnect with food?

Cook your own ingredients to limit junk or fast food as much as possible 

Take a proper break to enjoy your food 

Put your phone away while eating 

Start a healthy diet 

Consider exercising more


So how do you relax in such a pressuring industry where you need to show the best image of yourself, respect specific etiquette, and constantly respond to guest requests? Adopt a pre- and post-shift gym:

Stretch before shift  

Fuel the body with proper food, of course 

Visualise yourself for success  

Cool down after a shift  

Relax and unwind  

Adopt breathing techniques to connect your mind and body

Exercise more

Couple your healthy diet with regular exercise, like Verity Foss, Co-Owner of Oowee Vegan, an independent, 100% vegan restaurant hailing from Bristol, one of the UK’s most vegan-friendly cities  

As she’s been running restaurants for years, Verity has always had a particular relationship with food. She explained how bad food habits can impact mental health: “I love food. But I used to have very bad food habits, which led me to develop social anxiety. Fat diets always felt unreachable. One day, I looked at a photo, and I decided to never look at it anymore and change my life.”

The rules Verity started to adopt to lose weight:

Eat 1,500 kcal a day throughout a healthy diet, and walk 10,000 steps a day 

“The more I walked the better I felt.”

Get a fitness coach who can offer you a personalised fitness regime.  

“With fitness, health and losing weight becoming a part of my lifestyle it became more sustainable.”

Stay strong to achieve your fitness objectives  

 “Start with small changes. Take the stairs instead of taking the lift, walk instead of taking the bus.”

Give yourself a realistic timeline  

“Plan your changes. Hold yourself accountable for it. Tell yourself you’re gonna do that amount of exercise, as the more you plan, the better you stick to it.”

Don’t give up, even if you think of it 

“I told myself so often that I couldn’t do this or that, like squats etc. But there’s always exercise that is suited for you. I found one that matched my fitness journey. Also, hang out with people who want to go to the gym with you, who’re into exercising like you, it’ll keep you motivated.”

Maintaining a good balance, getting away from your phone in the evening, taking proper breaks, reconnecting with food… as the mind and the body are one, it’s vital for the staff working in hospitality to take care of themselves, even if it can be easier said than done. But remember – it’s all about taking baby steps; changing your routine, learning something new, exercising more, meditating, etc. will end up in sustainable changes. And it is also the role of the companies to adapt their culture to their employees to engage and retain them in the long term.

You are more likely to achieve a goal if you share it, so what have you been working towards? Share your goals with our community.