Contrary to idealistic conceptions, life as a crew member on a super yacht can potentially be much more stressful than the rat-race of city life, despite some obvious perks. Hours are extremely long and clientele are used to the highest levels of service and luxury. Excelling in such an environment, whilst consistently projecting a warm and professional demeanour, can lead to high levels of stress and associated health issues, ranging from anxiety and digestive issues to insomnia.
Biologically speaking, stress is a lifesaver. The body reacts to stress by circulating hormones that increase your ability to deal with threats. These ‘fight or flight’ hormones are less helpful when stress, and therefore threat, is perceived frequently or for extended periods. It is often difficult to relax and provide exceptional service while physiologically pressured.
Some of the best ways of managing stress on-board include:
1. Exercise: exercise encourages endorphins to be released into the blood stream. These ‘feel good’ hormones alleviate stress. Physical strength and health also increase as a bonus. Try sit-ups, push-ups or other simple exercises that don’t require much space.
2. Yoga/Pilates: whilst it may be difficult to run or access a gym, various forms of yoga and pilates can be performed in limited space and with little equipment. Routines can be easily picked up from books, DVDs or online and offer great benefit.
3. Laughter: many studies have found a correlation between laughter and lower stress levels. This may be due to lowering of stress hormone levels or simply escapism and renewed perspective. DVDs, books and the internet are all readily useable on board, but the best method of laughter will be generated by interacting with your colleagues.
4. Meditation: a fundamental practice in many ancient religions, meditation is widely accepted as a great way to calm down and de-stress for many people. Forms of meditation include religious practices, mindfulness and visualisation techniques.
5. Technology: unplug! Turn off all devices for a short while, disconnect and appreciate the sunshine, waves, stars and skies.
6. Technology: use it. Connect with friends and family via social media or watch something that you enjoy. Take some time to enjoy life.
7. Dance: even if it is on your own. Enjoy the benefits of exercise with the added bonus of your favourite music.
8. Music: listen to your favourite tunes. Music can calm the soul and the mind or give a surge of energy. Classical, rock, blues, jazz, and dance – whatever you choose to listen to, feel your mood change and your troubles fade.
The key is to be aware of how you feel with regard to stress and which methods work best for you as an individual. There is no correct approach. Whatever decreases stress levels and leaves you feeling more relaxed is the right way. If, after trying each of these tips, you still feel stressed, maybe the position is not for you. Value your happiness. Search through yacht crew placement websites if you’re unhappy in your environment.
YPI Crew – David Munro