[stextbox id="grey" caption="About the Author" collapsing="false" collapsed="false"]Neha Singh is a wife of a mariner, writer by profession, home-baker by hobby, and mother of a beautiful baby girl. A firm hater of a 9 to 5 job, she loves to do things her own way. Neha lives in Mumbai with her husband and loves writing, baking and yoga.[/stextbox]
If you thought sailing is all about seeing new places and enjoying the vast blue oceans, you are far away from reality. Though the definition of stress doesn’t change for seafarers, the stress they experience compared to the people working on land has many differences. Although eliminating stress from any working environment, whether it is the merchant navy or some other profession, can be a little tough, creating a smooth and positive work environment can certainly make the difference.
Stress has become a part of our lives, something we have come to terms with and have accepted its presence. Though in specific situations, stress can actually be a driving force to achieve excellence, more often than not it results in physiological and psychological damage. Stress in the working environment can lead to problems both at the work and home front, and if left untreated can also sprout many health related problems.
The kind of stress a seafarer faces is vastly different from the kind of stress people in regular jobs face. And the major difference is the fact that they are miles away from their family. Having family near in times of extreme stress can help an individual to face the situation with a much more positive outlook. But with lack of loved ones, a seaman often has to tackle the problem alone.
Also the concern of leaving the family behind can itself lead to many mental tensions. Apart from lack of family, lack of good quality sleep and food, changing weather conditions which can lead to difficulties in navigation, port to port inspections, changing crew after every few months are some of the key stress inducers. As the stress rises, the amount of fatigue and frustration with the job also rises. This can hamper the working performance of the seaman and lead to many accidents and clashes amongst the crew.
The path to fight and manage the stress on board begins with the successful recognition of its existence. Without acknowledging the presence of the stressor, the expectation of a stress free working environment is useless. A seaman undergoing a stressful condition must first bring in to the attention of the master and the management which can then be tackled.
If the quality of living conditions on board is not up to the standard, the people living on the ship are never going to be in a happy state of mind. The management should take measures to ensure that the quality of accommodation along with the kind of food the crew receives is of good quality so that the basic requirement of the seamen is met.
Better means of communication on board can also help the seafarers be in regular touch with their families which can help them share their problems with their loved ones and also eliminate the concern of them being far away.
Besides this it is of vital importance that seamen adopt a healthy and holistic approach to stress management. A proper diet along with a healthy exercise regimen can combat stress which can result in a much more optimistic approach towards work.
Making a provision for extra officers and skilled crew can also help the seamen to get rid of their excess work load. A lighter work load can give them more time for other activities which can help reduce the stress significantly. Along with all this providing various means of recreational activities like, swimming, games, movies etc. will promote a healthier and entertaining environment which can take one’s mind off stress.
A stress-free work environment may seem like a distant reality when it comes to the merchant navy profession but by taking small steps like these and making an initiative might result in a bigger change than one hoped for.