Important for seafarers to look after mental health 

With recent research published in the Harvard Business Review showing that “hearing about colleagues’ struggles, regardless of the severity, normalized access to mental health support at work and increased uptake of support programs by up to 8%”, it is more important than ever that line managers take a lead on this issue.

According to the team at Mental Health Support Solutions (MHSS), it’s not only important to look after your own mental health but to show your colleagues the value you place on your wellbeing.  

Explains Luca Hütter, a psychologist at the company, “In fact it is very easy for leaders to neglect their own health and focus more closely on their teams but, by demonstrating a commitment to mental health strategies and support, they can give tacit approval for others in the team to seek advice and support while simultaneously improving their own welfare.”

While everyone at MHSS has their own individual self-care routine, there are some elements that are common to all:

  • Have a balanced diet, eat regularly, drink sufficient water and keep yourself well-nourished and hydrated
  • Exercise regularly, find something you enjoy, it doesn’t matter what, running, yoga, a sport, dancing or walking. 30 minutes a day will boost endorphins and improve your mood
  • Manage your stress levels, it isn’t possible to avoid stress entirely but it can be controlled through meditation, yoga or deep breathing exercises
  • Prioritize your sleep, have a consistent schedule and make sure that you are relaxed when you go to bed
  • Learn to say no and set limits so that you avoid over commitment
  • Maintain good personal hygiene to improve social interactions and self-esteem
  • Make time for hobbies and the things that bring you joy
  • Monitor your own mental status. If you find yourself becoming irritable or sad, take action by talking to a trusted person or analyzing whether you have been looking after your physical or mental health. Don’t suppress your feelings but implement changes that will make you feel better

Concludes Luca, “If teams see their leader prioritizing their own care, for example insisting on taking a lunch break or turning down something in favor of exercise and making sure they are always dressed well for the day, then it becomes easier for everyone else to also pay attention to their own wellbeing. 

“Self-care is particularly important onboard a vessel where work and home are one and the same and the normal outlets for stress are not so readily available. MHSS is keen that everyone from the Master to deck hands is seen to look after themselves so that a culture of wellbeing develops.”

Photo credit: iStock/ Wasan Tita

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