Finding Balance When The Sea Gets Rough

Yep, it’s July, so the idea of finding balance in your job and life probably feels a bit laughable right now. The summer season is hitting its height over the next few weeks, and there are perhaps a rare few days off between now and the end of the season. Balance seems far-off and unattainable in the current circumstances, right? Something to be put off until the end of the season, or maybe the shipyard. Something to pass off to your future, less-tired self.

By Sophie Barber • 13 July 2023

But that’s precisely why it is so important to be thinking about balance. Because without concentrating on it and making intentional plans to find it where you can get it all year round, you will find yourself with no balance at all.

By reuniting with your motivated, happy self only during the quieter times of yachting life, you are condemning yourself to a constant pendulum swing between fulfilled and happy and overworked and stressed. A seasonal rollercoaster. The literal opposite of balance.

Over time you may start dreading the season altogether because you can find no room in it for yourself. That’s how people often drop out of yachting long before they’ve achieved their goals. Because at sea, it is all too easy to lose your balance.

Here are a few things to do to bring a bit of balance, joy, and me-time into your day, no matter how busy you get.

Pre-Sleep Yoga

For those who crave a bit of zen after a day full of demands, we recommend gentle yoga before climbing into your bunk at night. There are multiple free programs on the internet, such as Yoga with Kassandra, which offers 30 days of gentle 15-minute yoga sessions that get you relaxed and ready for sleep.

All you need is the space for a yoga mat to fit right beside your bed, even in the smallest forward cabin. She even has a routine you can do in bed! It’s almost indulgent; it feels so good. You’ll find yourself looking forward to this little ritual in no time.

Say Yes

When you’re offered the chance to go ashore on your break or swim while the guests are off… TAKE IT. You might be so tired that you want to cry, and the idea of sacrificing your afternoon nap fills you with a fear that you might be unable to cope on service or watch that night. But you can. Leave the boat, do the thing. See the place. Make the memory.

Expending energy creates energy. Wandering around Mykonos or Montauk on your break gives you new things to discuss. It gives you a window back into the world. Don’t be the person who says, ‘Oh, I could have gone ashore in Santorini, but I was tired. I regret it now, though.’ Don’t be that person!

Listen to or Read Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits by James Clear has found phenomenal success as it helps people build incremental habit changes in their day, giving them back power and more time to do what they want. It’s a good one to listen to as an audiobook while scrubbing the decks or cleaning a shower.

Check Your Vitamin Levels

If you’re on the interior and don’t get outside much, keep an eye on your vitamin D levels. Sounds crazy; working on a yacht but not getting enough sunshine, right? But mid-season, the interior crew can get pasty-white! The fantastic food on yachts should have all your other nutrients covered, but Vitamin D is tricky to maintain without adequate sunshine.

If you have doubts about your general health profile, get a blood panel done before the season, as stores like iron take at least a month to replenish. Vitamin B, iron, zinc and magnesium are crucial for energy, memory and good function, and women, in particular, are often deficient in one or more of these essential minerals and vitamins. You can’t work like a maniac on an empty tank.

Step Away From the Snack Drawer

Speaking of food: step away from the snack drawer. Unhand that Snickers bar. We know, some days, that drawer is like your best friend, offering you sugar and solace when you’re running out of gas. But it’s doing you no favours. Similarly, if you feel better limiting dairy/gluten, do yourself a favour and listen to your body. Sluggish digestion caused by overeating and intolerances will slow you down and make every day harder than needed, so buddy up with at least one crew member to motivate each other to eat better.

Break the Grumps With Moments of Me Time

When things are getting tetchy in the crew mess, just walk away. Take your coffee, find a few minutes of sunshine, or go into your cabin and work on something you enjoy— sketching, journaling, or playing on your guitar. It might be staring at that picture of your dream house that you have stuck up next to your bunk for moments like this. It might only be five or ten minutes before you have to jump back into your workday, but losing yourself into something you enjoy for ten minutes, doesn’t it feel great? You emerge feeling a bit more like ‘you’.

Other Bedtime and Calming Rituals

Nothing feels better than your bunk after a long day on charter. But sometimes, sleep is elusive. We are lucky to live in a time when there are so many options for sleep or meditation aids, whether listening to a sleep story, meditating, or zoning out into bliss as you sink into bed with a yoga nidra session. A meditation practice is a convenient skill for yacht crew as you can meditate in micro-sessions anywhere —sitting on the bridge on anchor watch or in the pantry while the guests watch a movie.

Put Limits on Social Media

Social media will drive you mad. It’s lovely to stay connected to family and friends back home. But is it so lovely when you have to see pictures of them having picnics, enjoying the summer, and going to birthdays and weddings that you’re missing?

Social media is often a downer, even if it feels good at the time. Pick up the phone instead. Talk to your family and friends, hear the real news about what’s going on in their lives, not the artificial version they’ll put on social media. Look at your best friend’s face through Facetime before they apply the filter. Your life right now might feel unreal- in both the best and worst ways. Find the real wherever you can.

With a bit of balance, even at the season’s height, you arrive at the finish line tired but not broken. Ready to build on the great habits you’ve already started so that you go into the next season even healthier, stronger and happier. More prepared than ever to ride the waves.