6 Ways to De-Stress When You Get Home from a Seafarer Job
Seafarer jobs can be tough. Time spent away from home in, sometimes, difficult conditions. Here's how to de-stress when you get home.
As anyone who’s ever worked in a seafarer’s job, you’ll know that working away from family can be tough at times.
Many seamen and women love the freedom that comes with jobs at sea, but it’s usually always nice to get home and spend some quality time with friends and loved ones before you head off back out to the ocean.
But as much as working away jobs can have their pros and cons, so too can going home.
It can be easy to put your rose tinted spectacles on and think of home as being this calm and peaceful place when you’re thousands of miles away, battling with the elements and the rigors of cargo ship jobs but oftentimes the reality when you walk through your front door for the first time in many months can be slightly different!
For some seafarers, it can be hard to switch work mode off and slide straight back into ‘home mode’.
The downside to working away from family in a seafarer’s job is that so much goes on at home that you don’t really know about so it can take a while to get back into sync with ‘normal’ life.
(And let’s not forget that for the stay at home partner, it can also be hard to learn how to cope with a husband working away - or a wife.)
Working away jobs with shifts that take place over the course of a number of months need a definite type of personality to be able to cope with them. You need mental strength and a good sense of humor - and your domestic logistics need to be spot on to make things work for everyone involved.
That’s often because the partner or spouse who remains at home becomes a part-time single parent while you’re away working in jobs at sea. That puts more pressure on them and that pressure can build up over the months you’re away.
And that means that by the time you get home, looking for some downtime, one of two things can happen: either they’re so tired and/or stressed that you feel like you’ve walked into chaos - or they’re so good at coping that you feel surplus to requirements.
The good news is that both of these scenarios tend to balance themselves out after a few days, but it can take a while and the last thing you want after months of working away from family is to either be stressed out the minute you put your luggage down - or feel like you’re a spare part!
6 Ways to de-stress when you get home from a seafarer job
Cargo ship jobs are intense. You’re used to dealing with a highly pressured environment with rigid schedules, shifts and watches - as well as with periods when not much really happens.
And it can be hard for those at home to understand exactly what you go through on a day to day basis. You’re often cold, you’re often wet and you want your downtime to be the opposite of all of those things.
But how do you get yourself to that happy place after months of working away in jobs at sea?
Let’s take a look at some ways that anyone working in seafarer jobs can make the most of their time ashore, from the minute you put your key in the front door!
1. Get some rest
There’s no denying that a seafarer’s job is hard work and the first thing you’ll probably want - or should that be need? - to do is to get some well earned rest.
It can be tempting to jump straight back into ‘real life’ when you’ve been working away from family, but give yourself permission to unwind and catch up on some sleep. Your mind and body will thank you for it - and so will your family as you will give yourself time to ease back in rather than be a grumpy and tired presence at home.
2. Talk it through
Your partner and children (if you have them) as well as any other people you’re close to that you see when you first return home from jobs at sea need to understand that it might take you a while to adjust.
And they’ll only really know that if you open up and tell them.
Share with them what you’ve been doing over the last few months - the highs and the lows. Plus, for a wife who is struggling how to cope with the husband working away, it gives an opportunity to reconnect and bond. (Of course the same goes for stay at home husbands and seafaring wives!)
3. Eat well and enjoy it
You’ve spent months eating the dishes prepared for you by the ship’s cook. Now, no one is saying the food was bad, but now’s your chance to really get stuck into whatever food you’ve been craving while you were working away from family.
Missed fast food? Treat yourself. Desperate for some home cooked goodness? Make the most of it!
Eating might not sound like a way to de-stress but spending time with your friends or family, whether round the table at home, in a favorite restaurant, or even in a fast food joint is a great way to unwind.
4. Take some time out
You’ve caught up on your sleep, you’ve talked about (offloaded!) what you’ve been through over the last few months, now it’s time to take some quality time out with your favorite people.
Working away jobs mean you don’t get the same amount of time to spend with your loved ones so now it’s time to make up for it.
Can you take a vacation or have a few fun days out with the kids? The thing to remember is that quality time doesn’t have to cost money: depending on your location, days at the beach, in forests, or parks are all relaxing, fun and free. (Or almost free.)
5. Get moving
Exercise is an excellent way of de-stressing. It has an uplifting effect on both the body and the mind. Best of all you can tailor your exercise to your personal preferences.
Lift weights, go for walks, hit the gym, meditate, go running, practice yoga, go swimming, cycle for miles...the options to get moving are endless and they’ll all have a positive impact on your physical and mental health.
And we all know that maintaining wellbeing and good mental health for seafarers is crucial.
6. Hang out with friends
Some, many or all of your friends might not necessarily understand a life spent working away in a seafarer’s job but that doesn’t mean you can’t still hang out and shoot the breeze.
However you and your friends choose to chill - watching sports, having some beers, exercising, watching movies - making sure you take time to connect with your buddies is a good way to chill out and it also means you have a network of friends on land to provide support when you need it.
After all, you might not be at sea forever and if you’re thinking about returning to shore you’ll need your squad!
Working away jobs in every walk of life can be hard. Seafarer jobs are among some of the hardest. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to make the most of your time on shore before you head back to another seafarer’s job.
Of course there will always be real life stuff to take care of and do while you’re home but by learning how to de-stress, you can make those precious weeks or months at home even more enjoyable.
This article was originally published on the Martide Seafarer Blog on August 20th 2020.