How do we provide hospitality while staying apart? How do we regain control and learn to live with COVID19?

What Now for The Irish Hospitality Industry?

Being part of an industry whose DNA is being hospitable to others at every turn, every day is an immense privilege. Being denied the opportunity to be hospitable is, to those of us in the industry a terrifying prospect. Not being able to channel creativity through cooking, not being able to channel talent through managing and serving are cruel enough but being denied the opportunity every day to connect socially, physically, emotionally and mentally with the customers we love is hard indeed.

There are no words in any language to describe the surreal, real, terrifying and potentially devastating circumstances in which we are living. The hospitality industry along with the entertainment and tourism industries have taken a swift and savage beating at the hands of COVID19.

Nothing, absolutely nothing could have prepared us for this, no matter what anyone tells us.

Economically, it’s nothing short of a catastrophe and the fall out will be felt by, and paid for by most of us for a very long time. However, what can we do now to help each other get through? No amount of positive thinking is going to reopen a business that has been ordered to close indefinitely, no amount of positive thinking is going to change the way things are.

There are some practical things that we can do each day to keep our physical, mental and emotional well being intact.

This new reality dictates that we now need to look after ourselves in a very new way. Where once we might have felt that all that stuff about mental health was for other people, we now realise of course that it is our own mental, physical and emotional health we are talking about.

Each morning on opening your eyes, take two or three moments to breathe and be conscious of actually breathing. The mind loves to take us straight on the bullet train to crazy town as soon as we become conscious of a new day. To put an immediate stop to that, step off the platform and breathe. It sounds super easy but it is tricky enough as the mind will try to hijack us again and again and again. Each time, breathe and maybe put your hand on the place in your body where the breath feels most real. This can be done over and over again in any one day and grounds us back in the present each time.

Maybe try it for just one minute, here is a link to a one minute meditation which can be repeated over and over again throughout the day.

Micro Planning so that we can regain some sense of control helps to ease that gnawing sense of helplessness and grief. There are stages in this and it is likely that the first few weeks will see mental paralysis and procrastination as we try to process the enormity of what is happening.

We will however, wake up one morning and feel like doing something to wrest back control.

Making a list of what is within our control is perhaps the first step. T

Resolve to do at least one of the following/daily/weekly

Pause to begin a new day.

  1. Begin the day with a pleasant event such as a cup of tea/coffee/ morning exercise, music, quiet time, reading something positive…before catching up with the news.
  • A practical step regarding the business
    • Divide the business into manageable chunks such as Finance, Accounting, H.R, Legal, Operations – Front of House, Kitchen, Admin and other functions. Mindmapping is a very visual and helpful way to do this.
    • Break down each of those chunks in detail. Consider how each of these parts of the business has been running up to now. Take one chunk at a time and give yourself time. What can be improved in the future?
    • Set up a Zoom/Team group with your key staff to keep in touch weekly and keep moving the business forward.
    • What one step taken today will make the business more robust in the new reality COVID19?
    • Make a plan so that this is a phased process, too much taken on too fast will be overwhelming.
    • Resolve to do one practical task daily that will strengthen the business for the future.
    • Contact banks, suppliers, revenue, industry bodies, insurance, government bodies, colleagues to put structures in place around finance, health and safety, insurance, employment.
    • Lobby local politicians and industry groups to keep pressure on insurance companies to honour their client policies. This will be ongoing and needs to be sustained for any kind of real change.
    • Do a walkabout ( either in person or virtually) of your business and make lists of all those long put off tasks which can be allocated gradually day by day over the coming period…. take time, there is time.
    • Do something each day which makes you smile or better still, laugh.
    • Do some form of exercise each day, there are gzillions of You Tube videos for every type of exercise and every level.
    • Look for one experience during the day which makes you happy- it may be the sunshine, the smile of a child, the effort of so many people to keep us safe, making a loaf of bread, blowing bubbles, noticing the world around us.
    • Hardwire those moments and draw upon them when needed.
  • Allocate at least one if not two days each week where your mind is totally switched off from the business.
  • Go easy on yourself, this is a global bereavement for the kind of life we so casually took for granted, life will literally never be the same again.
  • The Business of Food is going online. We will be offering some of our most popular courses in an online format from early July 2020. .
Take time to enjoy small pleasures and recharge emotional and mental batteries.