Mental health. Support. Community.

It has been quite possibly the most discombobulating month we could have imagined. Our industry is taking a whopper of a bashing. Many of us have lost our jobs and our businesses; some have even lost our homes. 

Many of us are feeling out of touch with our support networks. We are so used to being the backbone of our communities that now we are struggling to find self-purpose. Our collective mental health is far from ideal.

So, who is going to support us now when it’s usually our job to do so? And what the fuck are we going to do with ourselves?

Clearly there’s a lot that is out of our control: we’re not getting clear messages from the government, our finances are low, and the hospitality massacre doesn’t seem to be coming to an end.

But we can control a few things: we can try to maintain and improve our physical health, we can do our best to stay connected, we can find a new or temporary purpose, and we can focus our energy on deciding what we want our industry to be when this is all over, and how we can play roles in making that happen.

The incredible Sarah Shawssh, owner of Khamsa cafe in Sydney’s Newtown, has had to shut her doors (for now). Faced with months without her raison d’etre, she is taking this time to focus on looking after herself and the community around her.

For my personal well being I’ve set up a little gym in my apartment to manage my mental and physical health.Everybody knows these go hand in hand, and right now they seem more important than ever.

 I’ve downloaded the app ‘Houseparty’, and it’s been really fun to be able to connect with friends and meet new friends of friends each evening.

I’ve also been focusing on the chores and tasks I didn’t have time for before (and have no excuse not to do now). Setting myself goals and tasks each day really helps.

The biggest thing that is keeping me sane is that I can still cook and provide meals for those who need it after the hospo-massacre of Covid-19. It has helped me keep busy and it’s rewarding to feel like I can help, and I can make a difference, in what is otherwise a pretty shitty time for our community right now.

Some really crucial thing to remember right now are:

A healthy body really does have an impact on your mental health. 

Small amounts of exercise (even just one hour a week) can deliver significant protection against depression. 

  • Finally it’s time to treat yourself to a regular sleep routine. Your brain and your body deserve it!
  • Eat healthy foods. You can find a world of affordable and easy recipes online if you’re not so gifted in the kitchen. ‘Cheap’ doesn’t have to mean frozen or fried!

Some media coverage might need seasoning with a pinch of salt or two.

For once we’re not fighting for media attention in the hospitality industry. However, sadly we are not quite getting the attention we had previously hoped for. 

At the moment everybody seems to have an opinion on what’s next for our industry, how long this will last, and what it will look like when we ‘reach the other side’.

The truth is, nobody has the slightest clue. Being exposed to a shitstorm of mixed and often negative information can heighten feelings of anxiety. 

So, stay informed, but stick to reliable resources. Please remember that this won’t last forever. Yes, not all doors will reopen, but most will; the people will flood through them once more. 

Support the industry, and let it support you.

Hospitality is all about people: making them feel great, feeding their hearts and their bellies,  and sharing our passion and creativity with others. So it comes as no surprise that a large portion  of our community have put their hands up to cook or provide groceries for those who are a little down-and-out right now.

You can get a list of legends doing that here.

We’re distancing, not disconnecting. 

  • Remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation to slow the spread of the virus. We will be slinging back shots together once more!
  • Email, social media, video and telephone calls aren’t exactly the real thing, but just like Jim’s apple pie, for now, they’ll have to do.
  • People seem to be doing everything for free right now: join a zoom workout, learn something new, or get involved in a community project like Travelling Tables or #eattogetheralone to be a part of something shared.

Add value to your own life!

  • If you are self employed it’s a good time to expand on your business or work on new projects
  • If you work for someone else this is the time to focus on your own project and expanding on your ideas to bring them to life 
  • Keep your house clean and make it more enjoyable to live in by rearranging furniture or buying that outdoor living set you always wanted.
  • Remember we might be living so close to others like family and flatmates for longer than we usually would that it’s important to avoid conflict and maintain your alone time
  • Take the time to cook meals from scratch and learn new recipes 

If you’re struggling with cashflow right now, you are definitely not alone. 

For information and services provided by the Australian government, please visit Services Australia.

If you are experiencing financial hardship, National Debt Helpline offers free financial counselling.

If you just want to talk to a stranger, pick up a phone so somebody can hear you scream, shout or cry. That’s ok, we’re here and we might even want to do the same from time to time!

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