Many people think of restaurant jobs as positions for young people. Depending on the type of restaurant, those positions might often be filled by teenagers working a summer job, or a young 25-year-old trying to pay off their student loan debt.
However, data has shown that the average age of restaurant workers is getting higher, and many people are turning food ervice into a life-long career.
Working in a restaurant as you get older can be rewarding. You have a bit of “veteran” status, so you can take younger workers under your wing. More importantly, the fast pace and need for thinking on your feet can help to “keep you young” and make it easier to stay active as you age.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some challenges. So, what can you do to stay competitive? How can you maintain a higher quality of life while working, and thrive in the restaurant industry, rather than just dragging along to get a paycheck?
If you’ve been in the industry for a while and you’re planning on being a lifer, let’s dive into a few tips you can use to take care of yourself, plan for your future, and enjoy the career path you’ve chosen.
Saving For Retirement
Even if you plan on working in the restaurant industry forever, you probably don’t want to work in the restaurant industry … forever. At some point, you’ll want to retire. After a lifetime of foodservice, you’ll have earned it. Restaurant work is demanding, and being able to retire comfortably and enjoy the fruits of your labor is something you can look forward to.
However, most restaurant jobs don’t come with retirement plans, even for their full-time employees. Therefore, it’s up to you to invest your funds wisely. Start by boosting your financial literacy, understanding what you’ll need to have a comfortable retirement, and creating a savings plan that fits your needs now and in the future.
Make sure to diversify your investments to get the best results. It’s a great way to minimize risks and maximize retirement profits. You don’t have to be an investment guru to do well with a diversified portfolio. If you’re not sure how to get started on your retirement strategy, keep the following tips in mind and go from there:
- Don’t spend beyond your means
- Build a reasonable budget
- Cut out wasted costs
- Invest responsibly
It’s never too early (or too late) to start saving for retirement. The more you start budgeting and investing now, the more confident, comfortable, and prepared you’ll be when you finally decide to hang up your apron.
Maintaining Physical Wellness
Most restaurant positions require you to be on your feet for several hours at a time. You’re moving around a lot, potentially carrying heavy objects or working in a hot kitchen. By the time your shift is over, you’re likely beyond ready to sit down and relax. Simply put, restaurant work can take a serious toll on your body.
Ideally, you work in an environment that promotes mental wellness and takes care of its staff. However, it’s still up to you to maintain your physical well-being and stay as healthy as possible. You might feel good, overall, and maybe you don’t want to give into stereotypes. But your body slows down with age. You’re more susceptible to things like aches and pains, joint problems, and fatigue. If you want to stay competitive while making sure you’re healthy, it’s important to foster wellness habits you can incorporate into your daily routine.
Some of the best ways to maintain your physical health while dealing with a demanding work schedule include:
- Eating a healthy diet (and never skipping breakfast)
- Prioritizing sleep
- Staying hydrated
- Exercising several days a week
It’s essential for restaurant workers to stay relatively “fit”, especially with age. If you’re not taking care of your physical health, you could become tired easily and lose your stamina. You might also lose strength, making it hard to carry trays or heavy pans and pots in the kitchen. You don’t have to invest in a gym membership or work out for an hour every day. Find activities you enjoy doing that keep you moving, and you’ll experience more energy, more strength, and a reduced risk of certain age-related issues.
Managing Your Mental Health
In addition to staying in shape physically, it’s imperative to take care of your mental health in the restaurant industry. That’s a tip that everyone in the business can use, but it’s especially important as you get older.
Working in restaurants as an older individual can sometimes be a bit lonely and isolating. You might not “fit in” with the younger workers. Add that to the stress that often comes with a food service business, and it can take a toll on your mental well-being, potentially leading to issues like anxiety or depression.
You can manage your mental health in many of the same ways that you take care of yourself, physically. Self-care should be a part of your daily routine. Add things like mindfulness, meditation, and journaling to your wellness regimen, and you’ll strengthen your mental wellness as well as your physical health.
If you find that you’re really struggling, consider talking to a therapist. Nowadays, it’s easier to find a therapist that can meet your age-related needs. For example, using teletherapy services can connect you to the right mental health professional anywhere in the country.
Finally, do what you can to establish a healthy work-life balance. While working in a restaurant can sometimes create an inconsistent schedule, you should have some seniority and some say in what that schedule looks like. Talk to your employer about finding some consistency and putting together a schedule that allows you to spend time at home, and with friends and family. Having a strong support system is crucial to your mental well-being, even if it means finding other hospitality workers to connect with.
There’s no reason you can’t enjoy a successful and fulfilling career in the restaurant industry at any age. Keep these suggestions in mind to thrive in foodservice as you get older, and you’ll be able to enjoy healthier, happier retirement years.
Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but business, technology, and digital marketing topics are his favorite. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or getting into the latest tech.