While at my University of Maryland College Dining rotation, I had the opportunity to attend a stress management workshop with members of the National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS). Each year members of NACUFS gather for their annual Mid-Atlantic sub-regional meeting to learn fresh ideas that serve their mission and promote exceptional dining services within their facilities. Luckily, this year's meeting was held at the University of Maryland, College Park campus, which allowed my partner, Marion, and me to attend. Even more exciting was that the topic involved stress management. Professional speaker and organizational motivator, Julie Gaver lead the workshop and provided humorous ways to beat stress in the workplace.
In a high-energy foodservice environment, skills to manage stress are necessary to overcome adverse situations. When stressed, Gaver challenged participants to define the situation, rather than let the situation define them. As one might guess, the first step to the defining a situation starts with an individual’s attitude. Though one may be stuck in a “down” mood, Gaver provided helpful tips to take back one’s attitude before letting the situation rattle one’s day. First, she suggested improving your attitude by the way you start your morning routine. Knowing what makes you happiest in the morning, whether it is certain music or making time for breakfast, sets the stage for the rest of the day. Her next tip is to make a conscious effort to smile throughout the day. It’s the easiest thing to change about yourself, and people notice when you show your positive attitude. In addition to wearing a smile, it is important that you speak with a positive tone in your voice. Gaver explained that speaking with an exclamation at the end of your sentence is the best way for your positive attitude to shine through one’s voice. She went on to tell us that if you’re around pessimistic people, it’ll eventually rub off on you. Surround yourself with positive people and your attitude will go up as well. And lastly, if all else fails—fake it. Giving off a positive outlook can only make things better.
The next phase of Gaver’s presentation explored ways to find humor in the workplace. Not only does humor improve mental health by reducing stress, but it also leads to higher job satisfaction and better workplace morale. Gaver provided various anecdotes recounting her own stressful moments at work and how she overcame them. The common factor was humor. Being able to make light of a situation at your own expense and laugh at yourself is a great way to bring humor to the workplace. Knowing your coworkers and what’s considered appropriate humor is tricky, so directing humor towards yourself is always the most harmless.
While this conference was directed toward foodservice professionals, the concept applies to everyone: keep a positive attitude and foster good relationships with those around you. As a dietetic intern, I am constantly changing rotations and getting acclimated to new work environments. In the past three months, I have interned at the Food and Nutrition Information Center, the International Food Information Council, the Food Supplement Nutrition Education program, and University of Maryland Dining Services. With seven more months of rotations to go, Gaver’s stress management workshop was exactly what I needed. A little humor can make all the difference.
Left to right: UMCP Vice President of Student Affairs: Linda Clement, Keynote Speaker: Julie Gaver, UMD Interns: Marion Viglietta and Lauren Hogan, UMCP Director of Dining Services: Colleen Wright-Riva