Someone who is burned out, according to Webster’s dictionary, “has become very physically and emotionally tired, usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration, or doing a difficult job for a long time.” The opposite of burnout is engagement, characterized by energy, involvement and efficiency. Diver burnout among professionals is more common than you might think.
Those who have been diving for years, with hundreds of dives, find that scuba diving tends to become less stressful and easier to engage in, yet many seasoned divers may start to feel a lack of motivation, energy and involvement in the sport. We’ve invested thousands of dollars in training and equipment, not to mention travel, but perhaps we’re bored. It’s important to recognize signs of burnout in your diving so you can deal with them early on and keep your passion alive. Aside from external factors, such as medical, family, work, or financial issues, here’s what may be bringing on that blasé feeling when it comes to diving, and how to prevent it.
You always dive in the same place
Problem: You’re always diving the same sites. Scuba divers by nature tend to be curious and enjoy activities with challenges and adventure. Why else would we venture into an environment that doesn’t support human life? So when divers dive the same sites over and over, the adventure becomes routine, which leads to monotony.
Solution: If local diving in quarries or lakes bores you and you can afford it, schedule a yearly trip to a different destination. Try some warm-water diving if you usually dive cold. And vice versa — if warm-water diving bores you, get drysuit certified. Explore some cold-water environments. When I was tiring of several hundred dives a year in the Caribbean, I dove the cold-water wrecks in the St. Lawrence River, Canada. The change in environment was reinvigorating — partly due to the water temperature. The additional logistics of getting to the dive sites made me appreciate the ease of my local boat diving in Utila. Another option, if feasible, is to take a newer or less-experienced diver with you; their enthusiasm tends to rub off and sharing your experience with them can help you regain appreciation for the sport.
You’re diving too much
Problem: You’re diving too much. Many new divers don’t think there’s such a thing as “too much diving,” but it is possible to burn out from simply diving too much in a short period of time. I’ve seen this happen to even newly qualified open-water divers, who simply want to dive, dive, dive — it’s not long before dive fatigue kicks in.
Solution: Set different objectives for your dives, following on from the points above. Perhaps you’ll take a camera on some dives, or try to find and identify a particular aquatic creature. Maybe you’ll dive a wreck or turn your dive into a drift — the point is to mix it up. And sometimes just taking a small break from diving is all you need to on-gas your energy levels.
You got scared
Problem: Something went wrong. Sometimes a difficult dive in low visibility or strong currents, or an adverse incident like running low or out of air can lead to burnout. Perhaps your equipment malfunctioned underwater or you had a bad buddy or poor service from a dive company. Any of these can turn someone off from diving.
Solution: Always dive within your limits, and practice new skills or explore more challenging sites under professional supervision. Always conduct a thorough equipment set up and pre-dive check. Monitor your air gauge on a regular basis, particularly when diving in more challenging conditions. Review forums and social media for customer reviews on reputable dive operators. Even in today’s Internet world, consistently good word-of-mouth referrals, including digital, are an easy way to assess a dive operator.
Problem: You’re feeling a distinct lack of challenge. There’s an adage in the dive industry, “a good diver never stops learning.”
During our entry-level training, instructors challenge us with new motor skills and equipment familiarity. This adds to the feeling of adventure and sense of excitement when we go diving. It’s natural as you become comfortable that this sense of adventure dissipates.
Solution: If you feel that diving is becoming boring, try taking a specialty class like digital photography, wreck diving, enriched air or fish ID. You could also further your training with a Rescue course or a Divemaster program. Look into technical diving courses to open new sites and limits. Not every dive should be a training dive, but taking classes can be a way to challenge yourself and bring back the excitement.
The common theme above is routine. So, if you ever get that Monday-morning feeling when it comes to diving, mix it up. Remember, diving should be fun, not a chore.