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Bartending is a great job with lots of wonderful perks. As a bartender, you get to meet tons of new people, make connections that may turn into future opportunities and you have an uncapped earning potential.
But, it’s also challenging because it requires you to stand for long period of time, often without breaks, while serving others. What’s more — your patience is regularly tested as picky and demanding customers can frequently ride on your last nerve. Not to mention a sometimes difficult schedule, making it hard to spend time with people you care about or take time away.
Bartender burnout is a real thing, and it often comes up suddenly when you just feel like you can’t serve another person. If you’re feeling over it and are dreading each shift, then this article is for you!
Here are 9 tips for dealing with bartender burnout that will help you rediscover your passion for bartending!
1. Take a Vacation (or Staycation)
A lot of times feeling burnt out is the result of working too much. If you’ve been living in the work, sleep and repeat pattern lately, maybe it’s time to take some time off for yourself.
By taking a vacation (or staycation — you don’t have to go anywhere!) you’ll be able to relax, rest and rejuvenate and release any pent-up feelings of stress and overwhelm!
Sometimes, all it takes is a little break to remember why you love your job!
2. Do Something for Yourself Every Day
As a bartender, you spend almost every working hour serving others. After a while, it can feel like you’re always putting everyone else’s needs before your own, and resentment may build.
In order to avoid this and to re-prioritize yourself, do something for yourself every single day!
Spend at least 30 uninterrupted minutes doing something you want to do just because — get a pedicure, start that book that’s collecting dust on your dresser, cook yourself a nice meal, write in your journal etc.
The point is to focus on you and what you want to do so you don’t end up feeling resentful for serving customers all of the time and feeling like your own needs are left unmet.
3. Find a Release
When your income is dependent on customer tips – meaning you find yourself holding your tongue often to appease others – it’s important you find a release in your personal life. This will ensure you’re more equipped to deal with workplace stress which is a major factor in bartender burnout!
Find an outlet you can regularly use to release your stress. Some examples are: meditation, yoga, working out, going for a run or spending time in nature.
By having a consistent release, you’ll be able to let go of any built-up tension, and better handle demanding customers, busy shifts, and any other workplace stresses.
4. Ease Up on Caffeine and Alcohol Intake
- Both caffeine and alcohol disturb sleep patterns and can cause you to feel lethargic and depressed if you consume too much of either.
- Both caffeine and alcohol can make it more difficult to deal with stressful situations and demanding customers because you’ll either lose your inhibitions (with alcohol) or lose your patience (with too much caffeine) meaning you might say or do something you otherwise wouldn’t
When it comes to caffeine and alcohol in the case of bartender burnout, less is more. And if you’re looking for a healthy substitute that will make you feel energized and is good for your mind and body, try green juices!
5. Prioritize Good Sleep
You know that feeling of dread you get when you wake up after only a few hours of sleep and have a day full of commitments (like work) that you can’t weasel your way out of?
It’s the ultimate bummer!
You end up grumpy and struggling to focus on what’s happening around you, and you count the minutes until you can curl up in bed and just SLEEP! It’s rough!
And while that probably isn’t the norm in your life, the truth is if you aren’t prioritizing good sleep then you’re not setting yourself (or your mood) up for a much better scenario.
Lack of good sleep is a major factor in bartender burnout because when your body lacks good, consistent sleep your mind feels an immediate impact. It becomes harder to deal with customer requests, long shifts and busy nights because you simply aren’t functioning at 100%.
In order to avoid this, and the feelings of burnout it causes, make sure you are getting at least 6 uninterrupted hours of sleep every single night!
6. Switch it Up
Sometimes it takes a change of scenery to get back to your roots. If you’re feeling burnt out from your place of work, rather than your choice of career, it’s time to find a new place to work.
Maybe that 4 am shift isn’t suiting your life anymore and you’d thrive in a busy fine dining dinner restaurant or busy brunch spot.
Maybe working inside of a loud, dark club is bringing you down and you need to find a calmer more airy bar to work such as a rooftop.
Try finding a place you’d like to hang out at if you weren’t working because that’s most likely where you’ll also find people you’d enjoy connecting with, which will make your job more enjoyable. By switching it up and finding a place that’s more suitable to you and your needs, you’ll be much happier!
7. Ask Yourself What’s Wrong and Why
If you want to get to the root of the issue, you need to ask yourself “why” and “what”.
Here’s an example of what that looks like:
“Why am I feeling unhappy at work?”
“What about my job, co-workers or customers is making me feel burnt out?”
Whatever your answers are, write them down. There may be several issues, or it may be one thing. Be honest with yourself as you go through this exercise because it will bring clarity to where your burnout is stemming from.
Maybe it’s the bar. Maybe it’s your co-workers. Maybe it’s something else entirely. The only way to know for sure is to ask yourself this question and answer it truthfully, then you’ll be empowered to change the situation.
8. Talk to Your Manager
Let your manager know how you’re feeling. Explain you’re feeling burnt out but you’re still committed to your workplace and you’d like to find a solution.
See what your manager suggests. Your manager will probably want to work with you to figure out a solution, especially if you’re tenured or good at your job.
Maybe this will mean cutting back on your shifts, taking a vacation, switching your shifts up and working different days/hours or something else entirely.
Whatever the case might be, make sure you loop your manager in so you aren’t trying to figure it all out on your own!
9. Make Friends With Your Co-workers
It always helps to have friends at work — it gives you something to look forward to and makes the time go by faster. If you haven’t already, make friends with your co-workers.
On that same note, if there are any people at work you’re having issues with try to make amends. Workplace tension makes bartending MUCH less enjoyable and may be contributing to your burnout, so make sure you take this suggestion seriously.
By using these 9 tips, you’ll be more equipped to deal with bartender burnout and may even rediscover your passion for bartending!
Antasha is seasoned bartender with more than seven years of bartending and hospitality experience. She is also a spiritual writer at cajspirituality.com, where she writes free, easy-to-digest and highly actionable advice on spirituality, mindfulness and empowered living. You can follow her on Twitter @cajspirituality for daily inspiration.