4) Check-in with yourself
Few of us make time to reflect on how we feel, especially during busy or stressful periods. Noticing when we feel happy, proud, or satisfied, have pleasant experiences, or feel grateful for something or someone is an instant mood-boost and can help to put things into perspective. Equally, if you notice that you aren’t feeling as good as usual, remind yourself of these steps and do something to improve your mood.
5) Know you’re not alone
Loneliness is a huge factor in mental ill-health, but is a natural consequence of being away from loved ones for long periods of time. Staying connected is important, but communication with friends and relatives can be limited on longer voyages. Writing regular, short updates or spending time on longer letters to post or email to loved ones when you can will help you all to feel connected when video calls or instant messages aren’t possible.
Making meaningful connections with crewmates is equally important. Humans are social animals and having a sense of community lifts our spirits and keeps us feeling energised. You don’t have to discuss mental health or personal experiences if you don’t want to; regular, positive conversations about things outside of work, or things that are important to you, and taking part in (or organising) shared games, competitions, celebrations, and social activities will boost your wellbeing and the morale of your on-board community.
If you do find yourself feeling low, remember that you’re neither the first nor the only person to feel this way. It’s so common, in fact, that there are plenty of organisations providing support for seafarers specifically (see the end of this article for some options).
Keeping these simple steps in mind while off-shore will help you to have the best possible experience, give your best to your career, and get the most out of your life at sea. For more information on wellbeing, see Seafarer Help’s guide on Wellbeing at Sea, and their Positive Mental Health guide for more tips and advice on staying healthy.