Barxiety. We all get it. Most of us don’t like it. Heck, some of us might even have it right now. Ok, I didn't want to do this. Barxiety = bartending anxiety.
You walk in mid-shift, the opening bartender is behind, your manager is in a fury, your crazy regular is muttering something inaudible, and some friends you would prefer to look good in front of just walked in.
Your heart begins racing.
The bar is behind and is a total mess. You tried to help the barback change a keg and you ended up hosing yourself down in IPA... (Too far? Just me?)
Anyway, you might notice that, in these times, many respond to stress factors by literally slowing down--a strange phenomenon I have noticed in high volume--and therefore high stress--work environments. It seems that for some, the busier the environment, the more stressful the situation, the slower the work. Responses to the all-at-once demands are often various levels of mental and physical shut-downs, and thus, when speed and efficiency are needed most, they fail.
How do we better manage our emotional lives through these moments? How do we breathe and move forward despite the chaos around us?
Ah, an answer in a question. Breathing might be the first step. I often notice the most visibly stressed out bartenders hold their breath while shaking cocktails. Other than preparing for the Olympics and putting the body in panic, I am not sure what this solves in the cocktail. Breathe, stretch, shake... (had to).
Learned crisis management has taught me to 100 percent accept that we are “in stress,” and that that stress itself is a simple part of the “thing,” whatever the “thing” may be. Nature is in constant chaos, and that is, in part, its beauty.
We can we do up to, say... 5 things at once, depending on experience level and ability. Accept this and move forward. New York City wasn't built in a day. Isn't that how they say it? Once that reality is accepted, we need to take one step forward at a time, clearing the brush, if you will, pushing ourselves to our safe maximums, and trusting that, in time, the chaos will pass and we will reach the surface. And better yet, make it to shore, usually with a boatload of money that makes us say, “ok, that was worth it,” and show up the next day.
Some barxiety relief methods I recommend:
- Accept that the chaos is chaos
- Understand that the situation is temporary
- Work steady and forward
- Take a shot. NOT! Not a healthy solution. Not an official recommendation.
- Eat some secret bar candy (we all know about this)
- Laugh (Not hysterically, please)
- Splash self with keg of beer
And note: never use the “look at the crowd like they are money symbols” method. Something corporate in that thinking. And aren’t we in this to avoid that?
Stay the course. The storm will pass. Trudge on, my comrades in the trenches.
Actor, Musician, Bartender at Boulton and Watt NYC