Dealing with stress in a professional kitchen

Joined Dec 1, 2017
So tiss the season etc

My drinking (and drug use) goes through peaks and troffs depending how busy the restaurant is. Doesn't roll into work but getting home late, girlfriend asleep etc I will happily polish off a bottle of wine and a few lines.
Basically I'm hitting 30 next year and this is a bad habbit I have had for too long, I would like to know your ways off dealing with the hours/stress and how you switch off.
Thanks in advance
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Joined Feb 17, 2010
Get off the dope, it will ruin your career. I liked the smell of a white powder in the 80's, once I woke up and ditched the stuff, including pot I could see what damage it was doing at work.
I just stopped, no help. It wasn't that hard once I told myself what was happening and what could happen.
Joined Feb 8, 2009
I think we all went through the highs and lows of working in the kitchen. We get off work and everyone else is sleeping. The only people left are the people who understand just what your going through. I think you know the while powder and booze isn't the answer. Hitting bottom means you lose your family, job and in some cases friends. I got out of all that when I started working days. I would recommend getting into a less stressful situation. Your family and health are the most important things in the world.
Joined Oct 31, 2012
I've never had a drug or drinking problem but I'll offer a couple of tips.
You don't switch it off, you drain it out.
Go home immediately after work. When you get home after work, immediately strip down and take a hot shower. That grubby feeling you have at the end of a shift needs to be gotten rid of right away. Get clean and in fresh clothing as soon as possible.
Have a couple of glasses of water. Have a light snack. Use the bathroom. Take care of your immediate bodily needs.
Then sit for ten to fifteen minutes. Some call this meditation. A former coworker and I called it SOMA, Sitting on my Ass.
Just enjoy being still and off your feet for a bit. You can even lay on your back and put your feet up against the wall. This drains the blood back into your torso and helps your feet and legs feel better. Take a few deep breaths.
Now see how you feel. If tired, go to bed. If not....
Write in your daily journal. Don't have one? Start one. Write about your day.
Check the mail. Take out the garbage. Do some yoga. Lift weights. Weather permitting, take a walk or ride a bike. As you walk and/or ride, find a quiet spot like a park, a quiet road, or at home in your basement and verbally vent at the work situation that stressed you out that day. Do this out loud as if the other person/people were in the same room and you could say whatever you wanted to say at work. Get this momentary frustration out of your system.
Find a household project that needs working on. Polish your shoes. Putter in your basement if you have one. Spend a few minutes reading. Clean the bathroom.
If you don't have a hobby, find one. Paint, draw, learn an instrument, find something that interests you and get doing it.
Drinking is a convenient stress reliever for cooks by availability and familiarity simply because it's part and parcel of the industry we work in and we work where others take their stress out at the end of their day. That's our work environment.
But don't take it home with you.

I'll add this just because. Expect every day at work to be a tough, demanding, obnoxious, stressful, physically painful, torturous attack on your nerves and muscles. It isn't going to be pleasant. It's going to be just the opposite. Stressful as hell. Everyone will yell at you. Physically you're about to experience a triathlon. Expect this. Every day.
Obviously it's not like that really. But expect it. Be mentally prepared to endure a really tough day. Expect yourself to be tougher than anything you can encounter. Then, at the end of the day, you think,"I got through that. It wasn't so tough. I can take worse." And then go home and take a shower.
Joined Dec 5, 2017
So tiss the season etc

Thank you for sharing your experience. Good for you! Just by asking for guidance is half the battle. Stress is natural but how we deal with it indicative of our strengths and challenges. Naturally, when let loads of weight creep in, self-medicating is the most accessible approach, but it just gets worst. There are good bits of advice above and healthy fun attitude towards stress. With the introspection you already started, some mind uncluttering strategies and habits good for you, you will feel free. One day, you will be listening and advising others on how to deal with ridiculous stress.
Joined Apr 24, 2011
For a second i was trying to remember when i started this post! Sounds very familiar, my life was almost exactly the same. I agree with chefbubba, i just flipped the switch and stopped, and it actually made it easier working as a cook believe it or not because there are so many distractions. I also second chefwriter in changing and taking a shower, it gives a disconnect.

But i feel ya, and honestly i still go down the rabbit hole once in a while. Im 33 now and it takes forever to recover which does affect performance at work and home. You will feel 100% better within a few days though if can stop.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
As others, here, have said, "been there, done that." It's a very common problem in this business. But as others have said, stop now, while you are young. Drug and alcohol abuse really hastens the burnout in this business. It's not easy. You come home, all wound up, and everyone else is asleep and most places are closed, so its easy to find yourself at a bar, night after night, hanging out with other like minded people, doing things that we know aren't good for us, but hey, its fun, and it helps relive the pressure. Unfortunately, not for long, and in the long run creates more pressure. My drugs of choice were pills and various hallucinogens, as well as alcohol. By my early thirties, I was starting to feel much older than my age, and I could see the toll it was taking on my body and mind. I became an avid reader again to help me de-stress, often reading well into the night. I'd still go out to the clubs occasionally and drink, but it made it only a once-in-awhile thing, not a nightly thing. I never did quit drinking all together, but instead of drinking to get drunk, I upped the quality of my drinks of choice and slowed down the drinking. I became a huge fan of good bourbon, and found a nightcap or 2 was all I needed to help me unwind, while I read. And I found that I enjoyed it even more-drinking less but higher quality stuff and I found that I no longer "needed" it, but only drank because I enjoyed the ritual around my nightly unstressing. Now, I'm married and have a kid so even those nights happen less and less. It still love to go out, occasionally, after work, and still "tie 1 on" occasionally, but I don't need to. The point is, in our business, it seems like we buy into the fallicy that we need booze and drugs to unwind, but there are all sorts of things you can do, that are more healthy. It's just a matter of finding things that interest you and then pursuing those. Drop the hard drugs-they will do some serious damage to you, in the long run, and moderate your drinking and smoking (would never tell anyone to quit those unless you have a problem with them-then by all means if you can't do those in moderation then quit those also, if you want to continue to have a long and successful career in this business. This job is hard enough on our bodies to heap on major drug use on top of it.
Joined Dec 10, 2017
Daily exercise is a must do, it's hard to get into it at first after long stressful day, but it costs nothing but time to run do push ups ect.... but the natural relase of your own dopamine and your brains good stuff will help you deal with withdraws better. Dont try and quit something right out you have to replace habits with other habits. Good luck to you

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