Ken also owns The Boat House, Bangor and is Chief Ambassador in NI for The Burnt Chef Project
Do you take regular exercise and if so, what?
I go swimming every morning at Aurora in Bangor and daily journalling. This is really important to me. I find that in general people do not realise we need to exercise to keep our mental health fit just as we physically exercise for our body.
What is the worst illness you’ve had?
Apart from double pneumonia and pleurisy as a child, I would have to say it was a recent bout of depression and anxiety that I was diagnosed with. I thought that only really happened to other people and it came as a shock; however, it explained a lot of physical issues I had been having. And came on the back of the deaths of a couple of staff members due to overdoses, together with the stress of keeping the business going and staff employed over Covid lockdowns.
How healthy is your diet?
Better than it was, though the ready availability of coffee and freshly cooked chips does not help it!
Any bad habits?
See coffee and chips! Though, more seriously, a bad habit I had was trying to take on too much and fix too many problems both for myself and others… it was just not sustainable. It was like trying to play a full match without any warm up or warm down, that’s the way injuries happen, and it is the same with your mental health. Being more intentional about what I do still allows me to do lots but it makes sure that I build in me time for a bit of recovery.
Do you drink and smoke/ if so how much?
I like my cocktails, craft beer and wine but generally keep it in check. A couple of cans of an evening with the rugby or some wine with dinner on a night off does it.
Do you take any supplements?
I take the Wellman Max range. Having played rugby for 30 years the joints need all the help they can get and my irregular eating patterns need a bit of support.
How do you take time out?
I like being active and a change is as good as a rest. So I crew on a racing yacht Excession, owned by a great group of guys, based in Bangor, racing all over Ireland and West Coast of Scotland. Swimming is great and then walking the dog.
How well do you sleep?
Generally I sleep very well unless I let my journaling and mindfulness habits drop and then my sleeping suffers which has a knock on effect on my physical health.
Do you worry about getting old?
Not really, but you do have to recognise it changes things. Much as you have to exercise more and watch what you eat as you get older, you need to be intentional about protecting your mental health. We don’t bounce back from challenges as quickly whether physically or mentally as we did in or 20s and 30s.
What is your go-to product that keeps you feeling healthy?
My journal. The Burnt Chef Project produces a great ‘Mis en Journal’ that really helps give structure which is very important in my industry that is very unstructured. I then find if my head is in the right place, the caffeine and alcohol intake drops, the sleep improves, the exercise is easier and all of these things combined keep me feeling healthy.
Ken Sharp is the owner of The Salty Dog Hotel & Bistro and The Boat House Bangor. He is also Chief Ambassador in NI for The Burnt Chef Project which provides members with free access to tools and support services for implementing plans to tackle mental health in their hospitality businesses. For more information on The Burnt Chef Project, please visit: www.theburntchefproject.com