How long will we have to keep going like this? It’s a question that school nutrition professionals across the country are asking. While it feels like a small step towards normalcy to have students back in person, the pandemic isn’t over yet. The uncertainty, long hours, supply chain disruptions staffing shortages and lack of control while juggling work and personal responsibilities is wearing on all of us. You might be feeling like you’re starting to burn out, or you’ve reached a breaking point. It’s especially hard when you’re doing the best you can.
It’s important to address potential burnout before it takes a serious toll on your mental health. How can you and your school nutrition staff fight off pandemic fatigue?
1. Celebrate victories no matter how small.
Recognize the work that you and your team accomplish by reflecting on the positives. Do this individually by writing down what you’ve completed each day, week, month, or year or have staff share in team meeting. Be sure to include school meal “wins” like receiving a product you weren’t sure you’d get or lunch service that went especially well. If appropriate, share these small victories on social media.
2. Value and recognize the work of others.
Staff appreciation is directly tied to workplace morale and satisfaction. Taking time to recognize your team’s hard work can increase involvement, boost motivation, and keep relationships strong. Recognize staff members when they’ve gone above and beyond what’s expected of them. A simple thank you goes a long way!
3. Set clear boundaries between work and personal life.
Find work-life balance. When you’re at school working, give 110% and change the world. When your workday is over, leave work concerns and worries at school. You will live to fight another day tomorrow. Remember to carve out time for yourself to relax and recuperate. Take a walk, exercise, watch a favorite show or movie, read, spend time with family.
4. Take a break.
While it’s tempting to throw yourself completely into your work, remember it’s OK to take a minute and give yourself a break.
5. Get creative with your resources.
If you’re short-staffed or struggling to procure food and supplies, it’s time to think outside the box. Engage the PTA or connect with parent or grandparent volunteers to see if they would be willing to work or help in the cafeteria.
While new USDA waivers have granted breathing room with menu compliance, think creatively how to utilize the food and ingredients you have on hand. Find inspiration from other school foodservice professionals on the TIPS for School Meals That Rock Facebook page. Save time with the tools included in a subscription to NutriStudents K-12. Not yet a client? Schedule a demo now to preview these time-saving resources.