stress on ship

How to Deal with Stress on Ship   

Today, all us of are living in the reel world, a world created by social media where the truth is engulfed under the carpet of fake glamor and charm. But when you step into the harshness of reality then only you realize the true hardships that lie beneath this make belief cosmos. But when you enter the real world, reality hits you differently. There are very few people out there who talk about stress and ways to fight it. And same goes with the Merchant Navy. We always talk about getting huge chunks of money, sailing and conquering all the 5 oceans, traveling and exploring the world, and having an adventurous job. But we get all these things at a cost. 

One of those things is ‘STRESS’. Stress is the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure. Stress can be acute or chronic depending on the duration for how long it lasts. Acute stress is usually for short term and occurs when the body is put into a challenging situation. In case of this kind of stress the body and mind return to the normal condition relatively soon.
However, chronic stress continues for a longer duration of time and affects the mental health to a greater extent than any other form of stress. Eliminating stress from our daily lives can be a little difficult. And it is really important to combat it.

stress and how to handle it.

Definition of stress is the same for everyone but it’s severity and extent differ for people on shore and that of people on ship. The reason behind this is, people with regular jobs are actually with their family and friends, Having the comfort of someone close to you in situations of extreme stress provides comfort can can help you tackle the stress in a better manner.

seafarers, life at sea

Let me tell you one anecdote about a cadet sailing for the first time. He experienced a set of panic attacks and anxiety attacks after a few days he joined the vessel. the harassments by his senior officers made him really stressed. His condition got so bad that he had to sign off after 2 months of joining. If those similar things would have happened here on land, what do you think he would have done or would he have handled the situation in a better way?

Yes, he would have handled the situation in a calmer manner.. But why? Because he has got family and friends over here. They would have backed and supported him. Now, you got the proper idea how the stresses can be different. It is then the ways to fight it will also be different

Now, let’s talk about the ways that can help you to tackle or fight the stress when you are on board a ship.

1. Talk to your Colleagues: 

stress on board

Well, the Merchant Navy is a highly stressful job. And every single seafarer would have faced the situation, what you are facing now. So, it’s always better to talk it out. If you are with your family, you can always rely on them. But when you are on board a ship, your ship mates are your family members. 

One important piece of advice, I got from my seniors on my first ship and would like to share it with you folks is that, “make one best friend on ship, with whom you can share everything, be it personal or professional”

This single thing has helped me to fight stress and depression, and I am sure that it will also help you.

2. Exercise Regularly:

exercise on ship.
Exercise regularly

It is so important to maintain your physical as well as mental health when you are in a highly stressed job. Studies have shown that if you exercise on a regular basis, certain hormones like dopamine and Endorphins, commonly known as feel good hormones get released in your body. These hormones help you to fight stress.

At times, it can be a little difficult to take out time for exercising, but 15-20 minutes a day is good enough for you to handle stress. A proper diet along with exercise can combat stress in a better way.

3. Meditate:


There is a saying, “If you can’t go outside, go inside”. This thing was better understood by folks in the Covid-19 pandemic. But when you are on board a ship, then you can’t really go outside the ship, except on shore leave. So, it is always better to meditate if you are facing a stressed phase. It can help you analyze yourself in a better manner and calm your mind.

4. Better Management of Rest Hours:

better management to handle stress.

Management can really help people to get rid of the stressed life either on board a ship or either on any other organization. It is the duty of the Chief Officer on board a ship to manage the rest hours of the seafarers on board. Rest hours can really make a change in the stressed lifestyle of the people on board a ship. 

5. Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques:

Yoga is not an exercise, it is an ancient technology towards well being and ultimate liberation. That’s the reason why yoga is gaining a lot of popularity. There are some of the yoga postures and techniques that can really help you to fight stress. Yoga needs to be practiced in a very subtle, gentle way, not in a forceful muscle building way. Some of the yoga postures to tackle stress are: Standing forward bend, Cat-Cow Pose, Corpse pose etc.

Well, a stressed lifestyle can really hamper your physical as well as mental well-being. Stress-free life seems a distant reality in the Merchant Navy but many organizations have come together to find a way to tackle or combat stress on board a ship. But, it certainly needs a lot of improvement. But taking small steps on a personal basis can really make a difference.

 “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

William James

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Being at sea for months, managing heavy equipment and working in poor conditions for long hours can be very stressful. Coupled with social isolation, seafarers are found to be at risk of mental health issues. And hence, understanding their psychological makeup is very important. 

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