Battling Burnout

LH Blog | Battling burnoutWritten by: Lynne Edwards

How to avoid burnout onboard this summer season.

The summer season is now truly upon us. Think sunny skies, relaxing on sandy beaches and enjoying pina coladas – right? Well, for yacht crew, unfortunately, not all the time. Summer can mean potential overwhelm and being overworked onboard.

While working in yachting has its benefits, you get to travel the world, meet new people, and be part of a close-knit community. It can also be an extremely challenging environment to work in. You are away from home, friends and family for long periods, and there is no distinction between your living and work space. Onboard can be a melting pot of long hours, hard work and extended periods of being with the same people. 

Is it any wonder that season after season, yacht crew experience not only fatigue but also burnout?

There is a lot to juggle when working onboard a superyacht, especially mid-season when you are drowning in laundry, guest requests, wash down after wash down and logistical planning for the next charter. 

People regularly associate burnout with “burning the candle at both ends.” But what is the actual definition of burnout? 

The World Health Organisation classifies it as an “occupation phenomenon.” “A syndrome that results from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” They further characterise it with feelings of exhaustion, increased mental distance and feelings of negativity related to a job. 

The silver lining is it can be prevented and managed with techniques and lifestyle management.

Having worked onboard previously, I know it is so tough to juggle everything, so I am speaking from experience when it comes to burnout. 

I have put together some of my top tips on how to avoid burning out when crewing onboard a yacht this summer…


Be self-aware 

I 100% believe that avoiding burnout begins with self-awareness, the importance of which is a message we at LH are always keen to share. Self-awareness allows us to self-correct.

When we are able to focus on ourselves and recognise how our actions, thoughts and behaviour are either in alignment – or not with our purpose and inherent needs, then we are aware when our lives are out of balance and heading towards possible burnout.  

Our inner compasses will be sending all sorts of messages to let us know, either in the form of negative emotions or physical deterioration.  It is critical that you listen to them.


Move your body

While working as crew can be physically demanding, it is still essential to maintain an exercise routine that is positive for both mind and body. 

The time you find to get movement into your day may vary depending on your schedule. Try to be flexible with yourself. For example, if you are on early morning shifts, it may not be as easy to fit in your morning run, so adapt and go on your lunch break instead, and if you can’t get to shore, fit in a cabin workout for that endorphin hit instead. 

Fitting movement into your schedule that is mindful – not including running up and down stairs or hauling deck toys in and out of the garage – is vital; exercise that doesn’t increase stress levels. Whether it is a quick cabin workout, a stroll ashore, a dip in the ocean or some evening stretching, sticking to a daily exercise habit involving movement will help you maintain your stress levels. 


Healthy habits 

It isn’t rocket science. Food impacts your mood, and you really are what you eat. Sometimes it can be hard to control your diet onboard, as you are at the mercy of your chef, but chefs should and generally do provide well-balanced and nutritious meals for the crew. 

There are certain things you can control easily. One example is snacking; avoiding the sugary snack basket will improve your energy levels. Consuming regular and healthy meals and snacks will stabilise your blood sugar levels and prevent those dips where you think a Red Bull and a chocolate bar will help. While it may be in the short term, you will suffer in the long term. 

Hydration is another crucial element – especially in the hot summer months and if you are out working on deck. Avoid excessive consumption of sugary or caffeinated drinks, and hydrate yourself with water throughout the day. 

Taking supplements throughout the busy season can help you stay on top of your nutrient intake. If you are the chef yourself, you must also prioritise your nutrition and be sure to re-fuel as best you can throughout your day. 


Rest and recovery 

Although a summer season can be ridiculously busy with long hours onboard, making time to pause is crucial. Sleep is vital in maintaining a healthy mind and body. Make sure you implement a bedtime routine that works for you – whether on an early or late shift, you still need to prioritise a good night’s sleep. 

Avoiding caffeine and scrolling on your phone before entering your cabin can help your body begin to slow down. Drinking relaxing teas such as camomile as you approach the end of your shift can also help calm your nervous system, setting you up for rest. 

It isn’t just about your evening rest. It also helps to have uninterrupted rest periods within a hectic day. These rest periods can be incorporated into your day through relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, yoga stretching, or quick meditation exercises. While it may be hard to justify fitting these in when you are busy, rest and recovery should be prioritised, or the consequences will be felt in the long term. 


Time for you 

I can already hear the indignant cries of “I haven’t got any time for me” – and this is precisely when you must make some time for yourself – believe me, I’ve been a sole stewardess, a chief stewardess – and a mother, so I’m speaking from experience! 

Experience has taught me that it is crucial to fill your own cup first in order to be able to effectively give to others. It is essential for you to maintain your involvement in activities outside your day-to-day role and ensure there is downtime throughout the busy periods. 

Throughout a busy charter, taking an entire day off is impossible, which is the nature of yachting. However, even if you dedicate five minutes daily to ‘you time,’ it will help manage your stress levels. Take time alone, whether before or after your day or even on a break. Time purely for you will help. 

During this time, do things that help you relax. This could be catching up with a friend on FaceTime, a self-care ritual like an evening face mask, journalling and meditation, reading a chapter of your book, or even working on a side hustle you may have started. 


Manage correctly 

Sometimes burnout can come from a need for more effective leadership and management. If you are a HOD, create a realistic schedule that allows your crew to have sufficient rest alongside work responsibilities. Throughout the summer, you must prioritise tasks, delegate when possible and establish boundaries to prevent overworking your team. 


Be honest 

Effective communication is vital to prevent burnout. If you are a HOD, encourage your crew to express their concerns openly and honestly and deal with them before they get worse within the latter part of the season. If you are a junior crew member, it is essential not to keep things bottled up and communicate with your HOD to tell them what you are struggling with. 

Fostering a relationship whereby crew feel comfortable discussing their workload and allowing adjustment when necessary – even in the height of a charter – can help minimise the impact of burnout. 


Happy summer season! 

It isn’t news that crew retention levels are suffering. With so many crew burning out after a season, now more than ever, it has become essential to implement these strategies to navigate the busy summer months. 

Using the strategies discussed alongside a positive, team-centric environment onboard will help yacht crew from burning out this summer season. 


Some helpful resources for yacht crew: 

Seas The Mind 

ISWAN’s Yacht Crew Help 



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