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Burn out at Sea

Battling Burn out at Sea

Job burn out is a state of physical or emotional exhaustion as a result of prolonged stress and frustration leading to feelings of depression or stress. Challenging factors that contribute to job burn out include unsupported work environments, feeling isolated at work, task monotony, unclear job requirements , role ambiguity , intense work loads , negative social relationships and negative organizational culture & poor leadership.

Every job carries varying degrees of stress and frustration, but seafaring can be overwhelming and challenging by complexities intrinsic to the profession that include long separation periods away from family and friends , deep sea voyages, rough weather conditions, multicultural working environment, limited recreational opportunities , all of which can add to the onset of burnout.

Burnout is characterized by signs and symptoms that exist along a continuum and the difference between burnout and stress is a matter of degree and individual characteristics. Recognizing the red flags of burnout can allow you to address the issue early on and prevent further mental or physical decline.

Red Flags

Some signs to look out for:

  • Chronic fatigue: feeling tired or feeling depleted of energy most days

  • Insomnia : trouble falling asleep or staying asleep

  • Impaired concentration and attention: Inability to focus, forgetfulness or being present on the job

  • Loss of appetite : skipping meals

  • Anxiety : mild tension, worry

  • Depression: mild sadness and sense of hopelessness or worthlessness

  • Anger: the perpetual presence of interpersonal tension and irritability which may progress to angry outburst and serious arguments

  • Isolation ; turning down invitations to spend time with colleagues or feeling disconnected from others

  • Self disappointment: engaging in negative self talk , not taking pride in your work or feeling demoralized and defeated


Activities to protect against burnout

  • Be an active agent of change by making healthy choices

  • Spend time outdoors, walk around the ship, breathe fresh air,

  • Sleep properly

  • Follow a healthy diet

  • Drink water

  • Reduce smoking and drinking

  • Exercise

  • Do something enjoyable every day : read book, meditate, play games,

  • Find meaning and purpose in your life – spirituality can buffer against stress

  • Socialize and interact with others onboard – create a supportive social network

  • Think positive and reframe negative thoughts into positive thoughts

  • Learn ways to cope with the demands of the job by implementing strategies to complete tasks

  • Learn to express and articulate your concerns, issues and worries

  • Set Healthy Personal , Social and Work Boundaries


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