Loneliness is a condition that affects most of us from time to time; as our mood drops we feel more tired and we tend to become less active and start to stay alone more, withdrawing and isolating ourselves. For seafarers, the unique conditions on board a ship make isolation an occupational hazard.
A good support network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your work troubles and help you see things in a different way and might even mean you have someone to turn to when help is needed. Spending time with others can provide a sense of time out from your problems, give pleasure and be a good distraction.
The importance of communications on board ship, and in particular, wifi, allowing a crew member to connect to their world over the internet or with skype, cannot be overstated. Regular contact with family members at home eases the strain on relationships that up to nine months at sea can place on husbands, wives, their children and the wider family. However, whilst wifi keeps us connected, it’s good to remember that more communication isn’t necessarily better communication. It’s a good idea to discuss in advance what your family needs from you when you are away, as well as when you are at home, and what you need from them – try and agree reasonable expectations.
In the absence of family being immediately available, make shipmates real mates. Other people on board may be few and far between, they may be tackling their own issues and they may be tired, stressed and overworked. All the more reason however to try and make friends with them, a shared sense of connection and hopefully some humour will have a positive impact on both your wellbeing and theirs.
Although different shift patterns may make it difficult to connect with other crew on board, making time for activities with friends does help us relax, and laughter is an excellent stress reliever. Communal activities are a good way to increase social interaction on board and organising an event even just once a week, can make a positive impact on your health and wellbeing.
Entertainment on board
The ship’s bar used to be the hub of social cohesion on board, but for good reasons many ships are dry today and with the lure of bespoke entertainment on personal devices, seafarers retreat ever more to their cabins.
However, through a few social activities the time flies and friends are made. Come up with ideas, innovations and plans or perhaps elect a social hub to organise regular events and activities. Even just a couple of people can just try something new.
Why not consider:
- Deck barbeques
- Race nights
- Karaoke contest
- Film night
- Games evening
- Team sports
- Quiz nights
Shared cultural celebrations and religious feasts can also be an opportunity to introduce your crew mates to some of your favourite dishes, music or other entertainment from your home country. Or why not think about study groups in professional skills, hobbies or perhaps a new language?