Maintaining mental resilience and managing anxiety while at sea can be challenging, but it is a crucial aspect of life on vessels, particularly for seafarers who devote their careers to the sea. COLUMBIA pure’s experience as a global health consultancy has included many clients in the maritime industry, and we have developed mental resilience tips and exercise ideas tailored for this important group of workers worldwide. As you read through the tips in this blog, picture yourself doing some of these same practices whether on land or sea for better mental resilience.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation are powerful practices that can help seafarers build mental resilience and cope with the stressors of life onboard vessels.

Mindfulness: Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. It encourages individuals to observe their thoughts, emotions, and sensations with acceptance and awareness. Practicing mindfulness onboard vessels can help seafarers stay focused on their tasks and responsibilities; manage feelings of anxiety, homesickness, or isolation by bringing attention to the present moment; and cultivate a sense of calm and inner peace amidst the challenges of life at sea.

Meditation: Meditation involves training the mind to achieve a state of relaxation and inner peace. There are various meditation techniques that seafarers can practice on board, including:

  • Deep Breathing Exercises: Deep breathing techniques involve taking slow, deep breaths to calm the mind and body. This can help reduce stress, regulate emotions, and promote relaxation.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This technique involves tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups in the body, gradually releasing physical tension and promoting a sense of relaxation.
  • Guided Meditation Sessions: Guided meditations are led by an instructor or through audio recordings. They typically involve visualisation, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques to guide individuals into a state of deep relaxation and mindfulness.

Practicing mindfulness and meditation onboard vessels doesn’t necessarily require special equipment; there are many resources available, such as mobile apps, audio recordings, and online guides, that offer guided meditations specifically designed for seafarers and tailored to the unique challenges they may face.

Physical Exercise

Regular physical activity can help reduce stress and improve one’s mood. Although it may seem as though a seafarer would not have as many ways to exercise as are available on land, there are actually numerous possibilities on today’s large commercial ships. Seafarers can engage in exercises such as:

  • Deck walking or jogging: Utilise the deck space for brisk walks or jogging sessions.
  • Bodyweight exercises: Perform exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks that require minimal equipment.
  • Yoga or stretching: Practice yoga poses or simple stretching exercises to improve flexibility and relaxation.
  • Resistance band workouts: Use resistance bands for strength training exercises targeting different muscle groups.
  • Jump rope: Jumping rope is an excellent cardiovascular workout that can be done in a confined space.

Creativity & Connections

Mental resilience on board can be greatly enhanced by leisure-time activities that inspire creativity. This could include writing, drawing, painting, playing musical instruments, or any other activities that bring joy and relaxation.

It’s important to also stay connected to loved ones. Keep in touch through regular communication via phone calls, emails, or video chats, all of which are easily arranged on today’s digitally connected vessels. Social support is crucial for managing stress and anxiety; if those feelings become overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek support from colleagues, onboard counsellors (if available), or mental health professionals through telemedicine services.

Goals & Routines

Another important tip for mental resilience at sea is to maintain a regular schedule for sleeping, eating, and working. Predictability can provide a sense of stability, which is essential for mental well-being. Maintain healthy eating habits by choosing nutrient-rich options, staying hydrated, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption. Prioritise self-care activities such as taking regular breaks, getting enough rest, and engaging in activities that promote relaxation and enjoyment.

Lastly, keep yourself on track by establishing short-term and long-term goals to stay motivated and focused. Celebrate achievements, no matter how small, to boost morale and self-confidence.

It’s important for seafarers to prioritise their mental health and well-being, and implementing these tips can help in building resilience and managing anxiety while on board. No matter where you work or spend your time, mental resilience tips can prove beneficial to a more satisfying everyday life.

Please note, all content provided is for informational purposes, and is believed to be accurate and current at the time of posting. It should not, at any time, be used in place of appropriate professional or expert advice.