Bartending, Culture

5 Simple Ways to Avoid Bartender Burnout

By Loren Bornstein


Loren Bornstein

November 16, 2017

Posted in Restaurant Management, Industry & Culture

The physical, mental, and emotional wear and tear of serving thousands of people in a given week takes a toll on even the strongest will.

As we approach the holiday season, bartender burnout often flares up among service staff. This is the time to think ahead about how to ease your team—and yourself—through the busiest season of the year in a way that saves everyone’s sanity. Here’s five simple ways to avoid that dreaded bartender burnout:


1. Disconnect from electronics

I don’t know a single one of us who hasn’t stayed up late watching Netflix after a shift. But all that screen time is hurting us. I’ve learned one way to combat the mental burnout is to disconnect from electronics. The science reinforces how important it is to disconnect from our screens, especially when it comes to sleep.

Find a screen-less nighttime routine that helps you escape work, such as reading a book or listening to music. De-stressing comes faster when your mind and eyes aren’t working overtime.

2. Sleep

Too little or too much sleep is bad for your health. Sleep deprivation destroys your focus, which can lead to sloppy technique or broken glasses. Even if you have a close-open shift, plan ahead. Our bodies have a natural circadian rhythm, which determines when we feel sleepy. I’d personally recommend sleep apps, like Sleep Cycle or Rise Alarm Clock, that help you stick to a regular sleep schedule and don’t jolt you out of bed.

3. Hydrate

How many of you have ever felt like a prune after a shift? It can be hard to stay hydrated when your bar is five deep, the glass racks have to be run, you need another case of wine, and the beer keg just kicked.

Try to combat dehydration by keeping a water bottle constantly within reach. Food regulations generally require server drink containers to be covered and have straws. Bar managers, help your staff out by buying them regulation-safe water bottles and checking in to make sure they are getting water throughout their shifts.

4. Lay off the booze and eat healthy

So many of us celebrate a busy night of kicking ass on the bar with three or four post-shift drinks—and we are worse for it. Not only does alcohol make you more dehydrated, it also inhibits proper sleep cycles. Do yourself a favor; skip the espresso martini or the rum and coke, stop after the first round, and switch to water.

Likewise, watch what you eat after work. Skip the fried and junk food at night. Yeah, a lot of bars and restaurants shift to a late night menu, but find a better snack than a plate of chili cheese fries.

5. Take a break

As an industry, we rarely take vacation. After a decade of bartending, I’ve learned it’s important to schedule some time off, especially after a particularly busy season. Whether it’s a quick getaway or a long trip across the ocean, give yourself some time off to relax and unwind. There’s also nothing wrong with a staycation. You deserve time off. Nobody can work 365 days and avoid burnout. Even if you’re a small staff, there’s no reason you shouldn’t take charge of your own work-life balance.

These five tips will help you establish a better system to care for yourself and your staff, whether it’s the holiday season or a slow summer. We take such great care of our customers, it’s high time we did the same for each other.

What are your personal tips and tricks for avoiding bartender burnout? Let us know in the comments.

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