Many of the things that cause stress for seafarers aren’t things that can be changed, like being away from home for extended periods or not being able to leave at the end of the working day. In their recent ‘Managing Stress and Sleeping Well at Sea‘ guide, ISWAN and Shipowners Club provide a useful infographic for managing worries at sea. The first step is to recognise when you are getting caught up by worries about things that you cannot change.
Tips for managing worries
1. Writing worries down
Writing helps to get some perspective on the worry and work out what it is that is bothering you. Sometimes new ideas come to you or a different perspective emerges. Giving yourself this time also helps to simply clear your mind and put your worries to one side.
2. Talk to others or send a message
Sharing problems may not come easily, but it does help relieve stress. It is vital that the person you talk to is someone that you trust and who you feel can understand, as friends and family. Consider also talking to a crewmate; They may have been through something similar and they understand life at sea.
It may be difficult, but accepting the reality of the situation is an important step to coping with it. Accepting the situation does not mean agreeing with it, just acknowledging the reality of it.
For instance, you are going through yet another safety drill for what feels like the 100th time. You start thinking about all the other things you need to do, which makes you feel stressed, frustrated or angry. Instead of telling yourself, “I have so much stuff to do; this is a waste of my time!” remind yourself: “There’s nothing I can do. I have to be here. It is what it is. Breathe.”
4. Self Soothing
Look for ways to comfort yourself. Sometimes when we are going through difficult times, we add to it by criticising ourselves and telling ourselves to get over it; but we would never say these things to a friend or a loved one.
Instead, try to find things that help you to feel better in the moment, be kind and compassionate towards yourself. A good way is to think about things that bring you comfort or that you enjoy. Perhaps listening to music you like, watching a movie, having a warm shower, reminding yourself that you are OK and these difficult times will pass.
Take your mind off your worries by keeping busy and finding something else to do: Exercise, clean your cabin, find someone to do something with, play a computer game, go for a walk around the ship, help someone with something, read or watch a movie.
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