“Sailing is not as it was before”, these are the famous lines of several seasoned sailors who observe that work on board and crew relationships have changed drastically through the years. These days, the challenge is isolation. We have seen poor group cohesion, and lack of communication in teams, directly affect the mental health of crew, notes Ms. Gisa R. Paredes, M.A., RPsy (WellAtSea).
he study of Positive Psychology, which emerged in the 90’s, offers us a few things on engaging our teams to stay mentally and physically well in times such as this.
Gratitude, according to researchers, has been called an “empathic emotion” (Lazarus & Lazarus, 1994) because it is predicated on the capacity for recognizing the beneficial actions of other people in one’s life. This is also known as Dispositional Gratitude – the ability or life orientation to notice and appreciate what is positive in the world around them. Research shows that people who possess dispositional gratitude tend to engage themselves more in healthy activities for the reasons below:
1. They see everything as a gift
According to Emmons and McCullough (2003), people who see everything in life as a gift and who count their blessings are more likely to have better vitality and agility. When someone is able to see value in their lives, they are able to keep an active lifestyle that may result to better relationships with the people they encounter – causing ripple effects through teams and communities.
2. They possess positive affect traits
Trait affect refers to the ability of individuals to experience certain emotions across situations over time. Positive affect traits are the likes of cheerfulness, pride, enthusiasm, energy, and joy. Research shows that practicing gratitude through time can help individuals achieve higher levels of positive emotions.
3. They have high levels of extraversion and low levels of neuroticism
Neuroticism is a trait disposition that psychologists use to refer someone who may experience the world as a threat. When someone is neurotic, they may experience negative emotions like anger, irritability, and poor self-esteem. Positive psychologist, Barbara Fredrickson’s Broaden and Build Theory teaches us that when we feel good, we expand and reach out to others. Gratitude studies have shown that when people are happy, they are more agreeable, easier to get along with, and are open to new ideas and activities.
We can support our seafarers by simply communicating gratitude and actively making gratitude a part of our culture. In our experience in WellAtSea, we have witnessed change in several teams that have taken the time to express their gratitude towards one another, keeping each other’s best interest in mind. With better group cohesion, individuals feel like they are a part of the team, and are more likely to sail with the same employer when there are systems in place to protect their well-being.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and do not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.