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Steven Mercer

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Steven Mercer last won the day on April 14

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  1. For #mentalhealthawarenessweek this year I’m thinking about Yoga and how my yoga practice has helped me bring awareness to my own mental health. So, a bit of a spin but stay with me. I believe that I can use my yoga practice to bring awareness to my own mental health. For example I may feel anxious as I practice certain poses or get angry and frustrated during poses I struggle with on certain days but on others could feel calm with the difficulty. Some more examples: If you can’t sit quietly in meditation then perhaps your mind is racing during day to day life at the moment. If you judge yourself for how you are practicing your yoga, are you judging yourself in other areas of your life? If you are frustrated or angered by the teacher or yourself, do you doing this with others in your life? I see the process of a yoga practice in a similar way to life itself. Yoga can bring joy but can also make you feel terrible. Its not usually on the teachers websites mind. There are certain poses that you will find suit you and certain poses you will find easier than the others around you. I’ve always found this hard, but in learning to deal with it in a yoga class you can learn to do it in the workplace and in life generally. Does this help me? Well, sometimes it doesn’t help at all. Sometimes my practice will simply tell me what I already knew. But it can bring me aware or how I am feeling. Other times my practice can slow me down. My brain may be in overdrive with positivity and ideas but just waiting to crash. The awareness then brings me back into control. I can make my next move. I believe in practicing yoga calmly, without judgement, knowing how far and when to push my body, by practicing with balance. Perhaps the way to practice life… If you are interested in seeing how Yoga could help you. Keep an eye out for one of my online practices or drop me a message for a chat.
  2. Steven Mercer


    How would you like your lifestyle to look? Now could be your time to think about it. During the days I was working every hour in the day all I could think about was what I could do if only I had more time. I would read novels, go out to dinner with my friends, go for a pint with a mate, start cycling etc etc etc. Ring any bells? So at the moment we are in strange times and you have been handed on a plate that time you craved, but… you have huge restrictions as to how you can use it?! For example looking back at my list, the novels is all I could really start doing. However this time could be a great time to reflect, a great time to get to grips with what is important to you. I’ve already talked about work / life balance. It should be agiven but it is still something we have to fight for. This time gives you the time to think about… How would a social life look for you? The things you dream of when you’re in the middle of service. Dinner with friends? Time and energy to ride a bike? What makes you feel good? What you want to fight for? This reflection is important I think. I burnt out from such a job that gave me no balance about 7 years ago. I didn’t think about what was happening and I actually suffered a lot of anxiety from having all this extra time and no idea what to do with it. In essence I craved going back to that life. That’s not balance. But it takes work to make such a huge lifestyle change. Those friends you used to hang out with on a Friday night have no doubt moved on. You wouldn’t fall straight back in. But over time I have found what a life balance is for me. Its taken to this day. I enjoy slowing down. I enjoy running, I enjoy practicing and studying yoga. I enjoy cooking, eating and drinking with loved ones. Why you want to fight for it? This is so important and for you maybe needs to come before the what. For me I knew that a life so far out of balance was simply unsustainable. I had myself in my 40’s or 50’s doing the same thing. I also knew there had to be more to life. I knew I needed change. For you it could be any number of reasons. Your family? Your mental and physical health? How you are going to fight for it? Here’ s the big one. It is going take some serious courage to see these changes. As I said above, I struggled, I really struggled. Firstly. The first step is to commit to the change. Mean it. Secondly. What do you need from your work life to make this happen? Can your current job accommodate your dreams? Can you speak with managers or whoever is going to make this happen? Thirdly. You’ve done it. You’ve made the change. Be ready to know that its not going to be as easy as you thought. More space means more time to think. Its so important to take things slowly, be non judgemental or yourself. As ever, I don’t have the answers fro you. I do however have a lot of experience of thinking about these questions. I still am. I have never found the balance of having a healthy social life. So we are all in this together. Thinking and improving our lives together. Namaste.
  3. How is your balance? April 2020. What a time to write about Work/Life balance. The kitchens are closed. We are at home. We are out of balance. Balance to me is the most important concept to consider when trying to improve wellbeing. Its human nature to require balance. Traditionally bad balance. Before these unprecedented times we all at one time or another experienced a lifestyle out of balance the other way. Not all of us, I have read great stories about kitchens that are finding ways to find better work/life balance, but it is still the case across the world that chefs are being asked to work long, inconsistent hours. One aspect of the problem is the expectation of the hospitality industry. Traditionally work/life balanced hasn’t been managed well and at the heart of the aims of the chefs union are to tackle these issues varying from split shifts, long/anti social hours, not having any fixed hours or being given no notice to make any plans. Stick with us to find out more. This will change. Perhaps as soon as when we go back to work. We will fight for these rights. I want you to have a think about what your work/life balance would look like If you were in full control of it. Like you should be. I am a big believer in taking control of our own wellbeing. During the time of my career when I had the worst work/life balance I made it worse by having a couple of pints at the end of each shift. I started to run. A lot. For me I found it gave me something that was away from work and I could easily fit it around the anti-social hours I had. On a simple level I sarted taking time for myself and sat in cafe’s and drank coffee. It was also a cue to me to move on. I did. I found a better work/life balance. The Benefits to business’ that looks after this balance. high morale leading to increased productivity. less fatigue related mistakes. being a responsible employer will attract the best chefs. staff retention becomes easier. How could work/life balance look like? No Chef should have to miss weddings and family occasions simply because they are a chef. Having the options to do things in your life that isn’t work. Evening and weekend time off to spend with friends and family that aren’t in the hospitality industry. Consistent and advanced notice for time off. To build a routine and make plans. As ever, I simply hope this gives you something to think about. Talk to us if you are looking to improve your work/life balance. We are here for you.
  4. How can yoga help wellbeing? Yoga is a science which came from India and is a union of the body, mind and true self. An Holistic approach to wellbeing from how we behave, breathe, move and be still. “Yoga is a search of the self, based on an inner practice and detachment”- Himalaya Yoga Valley Centre Physically stretching the body. Asana practice can help balance posture issues that cause neck and back pain as well as ease the pain of repetitive actions and helps the effects of being on your feet for long hours. Simply great physical exercise for strength, mobility and cardio. Helps blood circulation, digestion and moves energy around the body. Mentally Stress and anxiety management With better, more controlled breathing happier chemicals can be released and we can spend less time living in fight or flight mode. Allows you to find space to be yourself, with yourself. On a Community level. Encourages you to feel more at one with others encourages compassion and non-judgement the potential of a yoga ripple effect is massive for the wellbeing of whole communities. Why be interested? I am passionate about the words above because it worked for me. I have lived it. From one summer of practicing yoga whilst running one of Ireland’s top kitchens I found… I suffered almost no back or neck pain compared to before. yoga gave me the physical release i needed that i usually got from running but without causing further burnout. by simply practicing breathing exercises daily I found myself reacting calmer to instances of extreme stress. helped me be less judgemental of the others around me. helped me step back from being so hard on myself. gave me a break from that 24/7 feeling I get from running a kitchen. With both Cooking In Mind and the Chefs Union I am hoping to achieve the following over the coming months; Have the conversation about yoga. What do we need from yoga? Finding ways to give us all the opportunity to practice yoga. Connect Yoga teachers with those that need it. Talk about how yoga philosophy and practice has helped me and could help you. Namaste to alll
  5. Wellbeing could mean safety. It could mean calm. It could mean community. It could be internal to you. It could be in the environment. In my first post I wanted to put that thought out there and to talk about what it means to me and what its meant to me in the past. When do you feel well? For me, in the kitchen, a feeling of wellbeing is there when I feel like I am being my best self. When I feel safe in myself and safe in the environment that I am in. For some I know it is in the midst of service. When adrenaline is flowing and they feel part of the team. The brigade. With a feeling of being in that moment. It used to be the case for me. Not anymore. For me I enjoy a calmer, more balanced environment. Which are you? It can be a rhetorical question or one we talk about, but its invaluable to know. To know yourself. To know what wellbeing feels like. To know what you need in your life to feel it. The Chefs Wellbeing program and the Chefs Union as a whole are here to say that this DOES matter. The days of the hospitality industry being stoic and tough and putting up with a life without wellbeing are OVER. Your wellbeing MATTERS. And the wellbeing of your friends and colleagues matters. Its in our hands. Have a think. I just want to leave this here. Namaste Steve.
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