Bartender Burnout: How To Tackle It (Why, How, When)

bartender burnout
Joe | Last Updated: November 18, 2023
I'm Joe, a veteran bartender with over a decade in the industry and a burning passion for mixing drinks.

On the surface, bartending can seem like a glamorous job with opportunities to meet new people from all walks of life while socializing with customers and creating cocktails.

But behind the scenes, bartending can be a challenging and exhausting profession, and bartender burnout is the reality many bartenders face at some point in their careers.

Bartenders often work long hours, deal with difficult customers, and are rushed off their feet for most of their shift, leaving them flat and exhausted by the time they come home to their families.

Truth is, it can be a grueling job that’s not for everyone, so if you’re a bartender that’s currently going through it right now, know that you’re not alone.

We would be doing our readers a disservice if we didn’t shed light on this prevalent issue, which is why in this post, we’re going to explore the signs of burnout, why and how it happens, and when to consider a career change.

Sit tight as we explore ways to identify, tackle, and overcome this phenomenon.

What Is Bartender Burnout?

Bartender burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that results from the prolonged stress and demands of working the job.

It’s very common in the industry and can leave bartenders in a state of misery, making it hard for them to enjoy work or spend time with their loved ones at home.

bartender burnout
Photo by Misunderstood Whiskey

Working as a bartender can be VERY demanding both physically and mentally, and over time, this can take its toll on the person if it’s not addressed early.

Burnout can lead to a range of symptoms which include fatigue, lack of motivation, increased stress and irritability, as well as lack of job satisfaction.

I’ve been there myself and sympathize with those going through it, but there are ways to identify, overcome, and assess the situation that we’re going to go through today.

So don’t give up hope just yet!

Why Do Bartenders Get Burned Out?

There are a number of reasons why bartenders may experience burnout and they can vary from person to person.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common:

Lack of quality sleep

Sleep is incredibly important to maintain a healthy body and mind, but when you’re not finishing work until the early hours of the morning, it can be difficult to establish a routine and get enough quality sleep.

Lack of sleep is a leading cause of burnout in bartenders, which is caused by their often unsociable working hours and reliance on energy drinks and junk food.

High-stress environment

Bartending can be high-stress at times, and this can affect a person’s motivation and mental health especially during busy periods or if short-staffed.

Not only that but dealing with difficult customers day after day and trying to juggle multiple tasks at once can be draining.

Long working hours

The average shift length of a bartender varies depending on the establishment, but oftentimes they may work back-to-back ten-hour long shifts, especially on weekends.

These types of working hours make it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance and can lead to bartender burnout.

Poor diet

The importance of a healthy diet as a bartender can not be understated, health is wealth, which is why it’s so important for bartenders to keep on top of what they’re consuming.

Many bartenders run on junk food and energy drinks which can have a significant impact on their overall sleep quality and happiness within their role.

Work-life balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be hard as a bartender.

You’re often working late into the night and by the time you wake up the following morning, your partner may have already left for work.

Over time, this can become draining and leave the bartender questioning their role and burned out.


As time goes on, the role of a bartender can become monotonous with little variation between their day-to-day duties.

bartender burnout
Photo by Shlomi Glantz

This can impact their job satisfaction, the motivation to work, and cause them to become more stressed or anxious.

Fluctuation income

Bartenders often rely on tips as a significant part of their income, but these can vary from week to week depending on a number of factors.

Fluctuations in income may lead the bartender to become stressed and ultimately burned out.

Is Bartending A High-Stress Job?

Bartending is certainly a stressful job, but whether or not it’s high-stress depends on the individual, the establishment they work in, and their tolerance to stress among other factors.

Some people deal with stress better than others, and what one bartender finds stressful another may find a walk in the park.

The establishment plays a big role in how stressful the job is, if the bar is understaffed or underequipped this can quickly turn stressful for the bartenders working there.

If a member of staff is on vacation or sick, this may leave the rest of the team short-staffed and struggling to stay on top of the shift.

Equally, some nights of the week may be more stressful than others. Weekends are often the busiest time for bars, so during these times, bartenders may feel more stressed than during the week.

Bartenders often work in fast-paced environments where they are expected to manage multiple tasks simultaneously, from making drinks to serving customers and everything in between.

Working long hours with little chance for a break can cause mental fatigue and exhaustion which can become very stressful.

Being able to manage stress is a very important part of being a successful bartender, and it’s a crucial part of being able to recognize and overcome burnout.

How To Tackle Bartender Burnout

Bartender burnout can be challenging to deal with, which is why it’s important to try and identify it before it fully takes control of your life.

Look out for signs and symptoms that may indicate you’re feeling burned out, such as headaches, fatigue, frequent illness, and changes in appetite/sleep.

If you can identify when you’re feeling burned out, you can begin working on how to tackle the situation and get yourself back on the right track.

Let’s take a look at how to do that successfully:

Speak with your manager

One of the first steps, if you’re starting to feel burned out, is having an open and honest conversation with your line manager.

Don’t worry, you’re not going to get fired or be treated any differently, it just allows them to put extra measures in place to support you at work.

bartender burnout
Photo by Tim Gouw

I’ve worked as a bar manager for a long time and have had many staff members come to me with burnout problems.

I LOVE it when they do, as I can then put measures in place to support them, such as extra staff on shift, increased breaks, less pressure, holiday allowances, etc.

Highlighting the issue when it starts to arise is super important as it gives management a chance to help.

Take frequent breaks

Bartenders should be taking frequent breaks on every shift to allow them to rest, rehydrate, and take some time away from behind the bar.

If you notice you’re starting to feel burned out, increase those breaks and be sure to take increased time away from the bar and consider a vacation or some paid leave.

Clean up your diet and sleep

Take a closer look at your diet as from experience I’ve found that diet plays a HUGE role in how I feel and my tolerance for stress.

Try to clean up your diet and sleep as best you can. This includes avoiding energy drinks, sugars, and junk food.

As a bartender I find it helpful to bring a healthy packed lunch to work, this way I can be sure that I’m eating healthy food and not be tempted by snacks or junk food.

Practice self-care

Self-care is the practice of taking action to preserve your own health, which may include going for a morning walk, going to the gym, or meditation.

It’s very important for bartenders to get themselves into a good self-care routine to combat burnout.

Observe your current self-care routine and if you have one at all. If not, start to build one and watch the results appear right in front of your eyes.

When To Consider A Change

If you’ve given it your best shot and tried the steps above to tackle burnout but nothing seems to be working, perhaps it’s time that you consider a change in career.

The truth is, bartending is not for everybody. Many people get into the industry and within a matter of weeks or months they realize that it’s not for them, and that’s OK.

Even experienced bartenders can reach a point where it’s time for something new.

We’re only human.

bartender burnout
Photo by Andrew Neel

Maybe it’s time for a new challenge and to begin the transition out of bartending.

If the job is taking a toll on your mental and physical health and you’ve taken time to try and fix the issues with no success, then scrubbing up your resume may be what you need.

How do you feel about finding a career change?

Does it excite you?

If so, you already have your answer on what you should do.

>> Read more: 19 GAME-CHANGING Tips For Bartenders (Old & New)

Wrapping Up

Bartender burnout is a very real and concerning issue for bartenders all around the world.

The long hours, stressful environment, and lack of proper sleep and quality diet can lead bartenders down a dark path that has lasting consequences.

That’s why it’s important to be aware of the signs of burnout and to recognize it before develops into something worse.

Take the necessary steps to tackle bartender burnout by developing a self-care routine, cleaning up sleep and dietary habits, and ensuring to prioritize work-life balance.

Work is work at the end of the day, and no job is worth sacrificing your health over.

If this is something you’re going through right now, just know that it will surpass so long as you take the necessary steps and take time away from the bar to rest.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and be kind to yourself. It’s not easy what we do.

Hopefully, this post has helped you understand more about bartender burnout and you now know some of the triggers and effective remedies for dealing with it.