Adopting habits that increase our emotional resilience and wellbeing, seafarers can build a reserve of strength that can be called upon when they need it most. Here are seven ways; seven small changes in daily seafarers’ life to maintain a good health while working in a such challenging working environment.
- Eat Right
Eating well means feeling good about your food choices; investing in your body and your future by not taking in more calories than your body needs.
Make healthy, nutritious food choices and ensure a balanced diet consisting of carbohydrates, protein, fat and fibre, vitamins and minerals with minimum levels of salt, fat and sugar. The easiest way to be sure you’re getting the aforesaid nutrients, is to eat a variety of foods.
However, bear in mind that different people need a different number of calories every day, depending on age, metabolism, body size, as well as activity level.
- Minimize the use of sugar & salt
- Salt increases risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
- Sugar increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, and even depression.
According to a Harvard Medical School report our body needs less than one gram of sodium a day (under half a teaspoon of table salt). Instead of using salt to flavor foods, try dried herb varieties such as oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme and dill. You may also replace sugar with Yacon Syrup, Stevia, Coconut Sugar and other natural substitutes
Several studies on seafarers’ health have found some consistent negative trends such as smoking, drinking more and take less exercise. Who said seafarers can’t be fit?
Exercise makes people both physically and mentally stronger, while it brings massive mental benefits too. People who exercise
- are more balanced and experience less stress and anxiety
- keep weight under control
- their digestion improves
- their blood sugar stabilizes
- their sleep improves
- are more concentrated and self-confident
- Sleep well
Getting a good night’s rest is important onboard. Indeed, adequate rest and sleep, regular exercise and good hygiene help to prevent diseases and improve health overall.
The legal limit on how many hours to work on ships is addressed by ILO, taking into consideration the needs of marine industry. The hours of rest on vessels are defined as ‘non-working hours’; these do not include the intermittent breaks.
The hours of rest can be divided in a maximum of two periods, one of which should be at least six hours in length. Two such consecutive periods should not be separated by more than 14 hours. A seafarer must be granted a compensatory rest period in case he/she is required to be on call during rest hours.
- Challenge yourself with new goals and activities
Setting new goals is directly linked with motivation; it is about doing everything with love; about discovering the key of self-motivation. Always bear in mind that boredom, stress, fear and routine are the enemies of wellbeing.
- Stay hydrated
To stay hydrated, you need more than water. Get to know the foods and electrolytes that will keep you healthy and boost performance such as sodium chloride; potassium; calcium and magnesium.
- Have a Positive Attitude
Having a positive attitude is essential in order to be creative, energetic and healthy. Being negative, not only hides our own efforts, but also those of others. Furthermore, positive attitude means positive emotions; studies have shown that positive emotions are essential to our health.
Action to be taken by ship operators
- Raise awareness of the causes and the associated risks
- Organize weight control campaigns on board to monitor crew members’ Body Mass Index (BMI).
- Provide guidance to those exceeding BMI 25 (overweight)
- Provide required facilities as per ILO/MLC (gym, exercise equipment etc),
- Support a healthy menu onboard
- Promote overweight prevention measures