How to Manage Stress Onboard Your Vessel

What are the major attributes to stress on board your vessel?! Whether you are on a luxurious yacht or drilling for oil off the coast of Africa, chances are you have been STRESSED OUT by at least one of the below factors:

-Lack of Sleep/Poor Quality of Rest 

-Task overload

-Your Boss



*Lack of Sleep *

Rough seas, chipping and buffing on the hull … sounds like it is right outside your cabin, a fire drill smack dab in the middle of you rest time, problems at home… these are just a FEW of the common causes for poor quality rest or lack of sleep.

How can you manage?

  1. Ear Plugs!! Grab yourself some nice soft, easy to take in and out ear plugs to dampen all the outside noise and help you fall fast asleep! Just make sure you can still here that general alarm if it goes off!
  2. Try to get in some exercise to relieve any workplace/ home stress and to get your mind focused on something fun! By the end of your shift and a workout, you should be so tired that you can fall right to sleep! Even if you were just recently relocated to the berthing cabin next to the engine room!
  3.  Always try your best to mitigate any issues with management, subordinate crew members and home before falling asleep!

* Task Overload *

Being overloaded with tasks at sea is very often a normal practice. For instance, a mate on-board a vessel , you are required to navigate the vessel, communicate with other vessels, keep track of maintenance, answer phone calls , investigate alarms and be sure coffee to have coffee ready for the Captain when they walk in .

How can you manage?

  1. Do not take on tasks unless you feel fully qualified to handle them or have quick assistance if you have questions. If you take on a task you are not fully qualified for then you are setting your self up for some MEGA STRESS!
  3. Ask for help! Do not be afraid to ask your ship mates for a little assistance, just be sure to return the favor if they ever ask for help.


*Management *

Not every Stewardess loves their Chief Stew and not every 3rd Mate/Engineer loves their 1st Mate/Engineer, disagreements are bound to happen. Lets face it , you are combining different personalities, cultures and beliefs in a very small area for DAYS AT A TIME.

How can you manage?

  1. Keep it business, do not let your manager get under your sink or take corrections personally.
  2. Understand that even tho you have disagreements, choose your battles. If they are wanting you to do something that is harmful to you, the crew or the vessel SAY SOMETHING!
  3. Remember that at the end of the day you all have one goal. That goal is to keep the ship afloat!


How can we be less stressed overall?


Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean power lifting in the gym or training for a marathon. Take a walk around the Ship,  stretch during a break  or get in a couple pull ups on the designated pull up pipe on your ship can offer immediate relief in a stressful situation. Exercise gets your blood flowing and releases endorphins, which can improve your mood almost instantaneously 🙂

Eat right

Your stress levels and a maintaining a proper diet are closely related. When we get stressed from being overwhelmed,  we often forget to eat well. This can lead us resort grabbing whatever is on the break tray or what ever quick easy snack is around like potato chips. Try to avoid sugary snacks, potato chips and unhealthy break trays, plan your meals ahead as best as you can. Fruits and veggies are always good go to’s!  Fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the symptoms of stress 🙂


Laughing releases endorphins – the feel good chemical- that also reduces stress-causing hormones cortisol and adrenaline.


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