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Time To Open Our Eyes: The hidden cost of hospitality and how industry leaders can make the change we need to survive and thrive

In the hospitality industry, certain behavioural traits, often normalised and even valued, can lead to chronic mental and physical illness. These behaviours, though seemingly benign or even commendable, can have detrimental effects on physical health, echoing Gabor Maté's concept that "the body keeps the score" when it comes to emotional and psychological stress.

1. Self-Neglect in the Guise of Care

Many hospitality professionals habitually prioritise others' needs, overlooking their own. This behaviour, normalised in the industry, may not immediately seem harmful due to its gradual integration into daily life. However, this chronic and hidden self-neglect leads to sustained stress, a key factor in the development of chronic illnesses.

2. Duty Over Health

A deep-seated commitment to duty often overshadows personal well-being. While this sense of responsibility is celebrated in Hospitality, it subtly induces stress, leading to long-term health implications. The danger here is the normalisation of this behaviour, making it difficult for individuals to recognise its impact on their health.

3. Overexertion as a Way of Life

Constantly justifying existence through doing and giving is a celebrated trait in hospitality. However, this perpetual state of overexertion becomes so ingrained that many don’t realise its toll on their body and mindset, contributing significantly to the onset of chronic illness.

4. Emotional Repression as Professionalism

Hospitality demands a calm, accommodating demeanour, often leading to the repression of negative emotions. This suppression, while seemingly a professional necessity, can lead to accumulated internal stress, a silent but potent factor in chronic health issues.

5. The Weight of Beliefs

Beliefs such as being responsible for others' happiness and fearing disappointment are common in hospitality. These notions, internalised over time, foster chronic stress and anxiety, subtly eroding physical health.

The Blind Spot of Shift Work

Adding to these factors is the impact of irregular shift work, which disrupts natural bodily rhythms and is linked to a decreased life expectancy of up to 15 years! The normalisation of such schedules in hospitality masks their long-term health consequences.

Recognising the harmful long-term effects of 'normal' behaviours in the hospitality industry is critical for the future. Offering coaching to hospitality professionals can be transformative, providing a confidential space for workers to examine and implement healthier behaviours, while letting go of emotional repression. This leads to a happier, healthier, more engaged, and better-performing workforce, capable of sustaining the challenges of the industry. Integrating coaching is an investment in individual employees and a step towards a healthier, more sustainable work culture, benefiting the entire industry.


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