Amid the COVID-19 crisis and the crew change issue that has presented, seafarers are facing an unprecedented period full of anxiety. The feeling of fear and doubt on how the pandemic will evolve has led to stress and panic, something that affects the seafarers during their everyday routine. Considering the situation, stress can easily lead to lack of mindfulness, thus increasing casualties onboard.
During a webinar organized by The Nautical Institute which focused on mindfulness and how it can enhance safety at sea, Rev David Reid, AFNI Chaplain, noted that over the years it has been remarkable how many accidents took place because someone failed to think forward.
Our minds can be full of sort things, but we may lack of mindful presence and concentration in what we are doing.
On the other side, it is observed that accidents that were about to happen but eventually did not, was because someone had the presence of mind to act properly, asked a question or took an immediate action.
As a result, being mindful can change the course of the events and assist in preventing casualties at sea.
Although, have you ever wondered what is mindfulness all about? Are our minds full or are we mindful?
Answering the above question, mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you are sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgement. “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”…as Author David Gelles defined mindfulness in his book.
What is more, mindfulness can be considered as a tool that we can use to return our nervous system to its parasympathetic mode, thereby reducing stress and improving wellness.
In nautical terms, we always need the tools to respond rapidly to an emergency, but we also need the tools to return to a steady state.
… Rev David Reid said.
Some may have better mindfulness skills, which further enable greater situational awareness during a case of emergency.
We may have better technology today, but we also have other stresses to face, that is why mindfulness is of major importance.
… Rev David Reid added.
So, can those skills be developed?
The key tool of mindfulness is learning how to modulate breathing.
Studies have shown that Vegal Tone (the activity of Vagus nerve) can regulate stress and can be influenced by deep breathing. When Vegal Tone improves, the body can relax from stress.
When you have negative thoughts, try to sit down, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Sitting and breathing for even just a minute can help.
At the same time, paying attention and observe things is also a vital fact that enhances mindfulness.
It might be hard to slow down and notice things in a busy world. Although, try to take the time to experience your environment with all your senses, touch, sound, sight, smell and taste.
Concluding, mindfulness should be in our toolbox, since:
- Our improved awareness makes us safer and watchful for the safety of others
- We can stimulate our minds to be purposeful and, in the present
- Once we learn how to breathe smart, we can reset our nervous system, thereby relieving stress
- Is free, needs no guide, manuals or equipment
- We can practice it anywhere at anytime