By: Tejeshwar Singh Rana, 2nd Officer, Shell shipping-London, UK & Associate Editor-ICN
Shipping industry, as name denotes, is meant for the heavy goods transportation through the sea ways, from the clothes that the people wear to the food they eat.
Today almost everything is being transported through the ships. Shipping industry is also termed as the invisible industry. Ships are operated by seafarers, who perform the tough job of crossing the high seas through rough sea conditions. The seafarers are on duty call on 24 hours while they are on board ships and they are away from their families for a long duration, which adds to their hardship.
Health and Lifestyle of seafarers
Seafarers are not just the workers, they are responsible for transporting the heavy and precious cargo safely and efficiently. Seafarers are invisible to the societies. Having the burden of unstable work schedules, heavy weather, rough sea conditions and piracy. The fact that they stay away from their family for a long duration which may cause their health issues. Seafarers have to deal with complex and hazardous machinery on a daily basis. They always keep working for long hours with less numbers of people. Sometimes they face difficulties while working in risky environment, like confined spaces, Oil and Water tanks etc, which affects their health.
Difficulties faced by Seafarers
- Lack of Sleep :-
When working on ships, seafarers usually have complaints about fluctuating and less sleeping hours. This normally happens during enter and leaving harbour, watch keeping, emergency calls etc, this makes them tired and stressful.
- Staying away from family :-
Staying away from family for long duration is very hard for anyone and seafarers face this problem as part of their life. Staying away from family makes the person homesick and cause stress in their mind by which they lose their concentration and emotional downturn. The sailors have to overcome and fight out with their feelings to concentrate on their job.
- Lack of Social life :-
The seafarers by being away from their family for long time makes them cut-off socially from their relatives and friends. They miss the important celebrations and events of their relatives and friends which affect them emotionally. This may cause them involved in unhealthy activities like smoking, drinking etc. Lack of interaction with people and limitations on social movement makes the life more stressful.
Ways to achieve a Healthier Lifestyle
The seafarers, although, are subjected to hardship as stated above, but they can remain fit by following healthy lifestyle on board ships and cultivating healthy habits into their lifestyle. There are some suggestions to achieve healthier lifestyle on board ships, which are as follows:
- Eat healthy food and keep a regular time :-
Seafarers should always have healthy food for good health. They can have fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish. Don’t skip your breakfast and eat your food in regular hours.
- Fitness Centre :-
Now a days most of the ships have gym equipment on board. The seafarers should make use of these facilities by walking on treadmills and exercising their body with help of given equipment. The gym activities of at least 30 to 40 mints is the best stress buster to keeps the body fit.
- Yoga :-
Yoga is the best traditional activity for health, which does not require any equipment and can be performed in the cabin. Yoga proves to be best stress buster and improves the immune system.
Social activities with co-colleagues
The captain of the ship should ensure regular social activities of their ships staff, like Birthday celebrations, organise games, barbecue etc. These activities prove to be stress buster and makes the person less homesick. These activities also help the people interact and raise their performance level in co-ordinated work environment. The other activities such as follows should also be considered :
- Always have positive attitude :-
Seafarers should always have positive attitude. Seafarers need to adjust on the ship. Always share your knowledge with your co-seafarers. Seafarers should take their positive attitude with them even in the hard situation. They should take all the opportunities as positive opportunities.
- Minimize the alcohol and cold drinks :-
Some shipping companies have policies of alcohol. But you should have limitations on alcohol. Even instead of cold drinks you can have milk and fruit juice, which are good for the health.
iii. Stay in touch with your family :-
Stay in touch with your family regularly on phone, email and share your photos on social media like Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter etc.
The seafaring profession is an adventures life and adventures are always performed by the winners. There are many challenges faced by seafarers on board, which test not only their strengths, but also their emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and health. Staying healthy is important for seafarers so that they can perform their duties safely and efficiently.
Regular exercise and regular food habits will be helpful in keeping good health. In the mean time seafarers can communicate with their co-seafarers which help them to reduce their stress. Organizations should also take a step and provide internet facilities and sufficient budget for co-curricular activities on their ships, which will help them to reduce the stress. Keeping positive attitude and staying focused on the work with regular food timings and exercises will be helpful for keeping oneself healthy.