How to Stay Upbeat Onboard Your Vessel this Christmas

Dec 12, 2023 · 10 mins read ·

Life at Sea
Christmas lights on a harbor bridge as seen from a vessel

When you work in a seafarer job, being away from home and your friends and family for months at a time is part and parcel of a life at sea. And while some seafarers might not get homesick, for others it can be the worst aspect of the job. And if you celebrate Christmas, those feelings can really be heightened at this time of year.

We’ve talked before about how to beat homesickness when you work in a job at sea but we thought that with the holidays just around the corner for many of us, it would be a good time to look at some ways you can stay positive when you work on a ship - and, of course, when you’re working over the holidays.

Attitude is everything when it comes to making sure that you stay, not just upbeat, but also focused when you work in a seafarer job. And it’s having the right attitude that will carry you through the festive season - even if you’re thousands of miles away from home.

Read more: How to Cope with Working Away from Home in Jobs at Sea

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at how you can stay positive when working on a ship at Christmas and New Year, and how you can change your mindset if you sometimes struggle to be a positive thinker.

Staying positive when you work on a ship during the holidays

If you work on a cruise ship, yes you’ll still be at work, but you’ll be surrounded by jolly faces and Christmas decorations and spirit. Working on a container ship or tanker, however, is not going to be quite as commercially cheerful!

But there are ways to celebrate Christmas when you work at sea - we’ve got 10 great ideas for you in this blog post for a start.

But what if you’re not in the mood for hanging up tinsel in the crew mess? It might be time to change your way of thinking.

To a person who thinks positively, issues are viewed as temporary setbacks - and even as problems to be overcome that will only make them stronger or more resilient when they come out the other side.

Read more: 7 New Year's Resolutions for Seafarers

But if you’re prone to thinking negatively and are more of a ‘glass half empty’ type, you’re more likely to be convinced that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. So how do you shake off your pessimistic view of life and become a glass half full kind of person?

Here are a few ideas that will help you adopt a more positive outlook on life, whether that’s life onboard or life ashore, no matter what time of year it is.

Ways to become more positive when working at sea

There’s no denying that working as a seafarer can be tough for a multitude of reasons, from finding it hard to sleep when you man watches to needing to be physically and mentally strong, so try out some (or all) of our tips and see if they help.   

Adopt the right attitude

If you’ve ever worked with a negative crew mate, you’ll know full well how draining it can be. You need to employ strategies to deal with them to avoid them dragging you down with them. 

But what happens when YOU are that negative member of the crew? 

Try and get into the habit of thinking before you speak. Is what's about to come out of your mouth helpful, constructive or pleasant? Or is it distracting, pointless or downright mean?

Also try to listen to your thoughts and learn to identify them by type. Is that thought negative? Ask yourself how you can put a spin on it and turn it into a positive.

Focus on the good things

Make a conscious effort to notice and appreciate the positive things in your life at sea, both big and small. 

Dwelling on the fact that you’re miles away from home and your loved ones isn’t going to help matters. 

Instead, remind yourself what you love about working at sea, whether that’s because you love being active in your job and feeling physically fit or the fact that you get to experience some amazing sunsets!

When you focus on the good, it can help to shift your perspective and make you feel more grateful. And talking of...

Be grateful 

Yes, you’re away during the holidays and you’re missing out on the celebrations but take a moment to think about what you have to be grateful for.

Your health. The fact that you’re earning money to provide for your family. The opportunity to participate in a career that you’ve worked hard to succeed in. The great relationship you have with some of your fellow crew.

And don’t forget to give thanks too. Tell that person you get on particularly well with on your ship how much you value their friendship. Thank someone who is in a higher rank who provides you with mentoring.

Or simply tell the cook how much you enjoyed the meal they’ve just prepared for you!

You might even want to keep a journal that you complete at the end of each day as a way of focusing on the positives in your life at sea. This can boost your happiness and help you feel more appreciative of the good things in your life.

Look after yourself

You know that you need to look after yourself - both physically and mentally - when you’re working at sea.

Eating healthily, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep can all help to improve your mood and energy levels. 

Build time into your schedule to hit the ship's gym or get up deck for some fresh air and a brisk walk or jog.

When it comes to food, you might not be in control of what comes out of the galley at mealtimes but you can choose to pack healthy snacks like nuts in your luggage so you can nibble on those when you’re hungry.

When you feel good physically, you're more likely to feel good mentally and emotionally as well.

Read more: 7 Tips for Better Mental Health for Seafarers

Be compassionate

Not just to your crewmates but to yourself as well. Self-compassion is about being kind to yourself, especially when you're going through tough times  such as spending Christmas working at sea. 

It's about accepting yourself for who you are, flaws and all. 

And understand that although you might be just one person in your crew, you can still make a difference to the lives of others onboard. 

Taking the time to listen to your fellow seafarers and empathizing with them if they’re feeling down can really help you grow as a person. After all, we all feel good about ourselves when we help others.

Have a sense of humor

Try to maintain your sense of humor. Having the ability to look on the brighter side of life is crucial when you’re working in an often stressful or physically demanding job at sea.

Of course, not every event or incident can be turned into a laughable moment - and neither should it be. 

But being able to see the funny side when something inconsequential goes wrong is a much more positive way of approaching something rather than shouting or raging about it.

Read more: How to Be Happy When Working in a Seafarer Job

Staying positive in your seafarer job at Christmas: Conclusion

Yes, developing a positive attitude takes time and effort, but it's worth it. When you have a positive outlook, you're more likely to be happy, healthy, and successful in your maritime career, both during the upcoming holidays and long after the decorations have been packed away.

And speaking of which…are you looking to line up your next seafarer job? Whether you’re working on a ship at the moment or you’re hoping to embark in the not too distant future, we have seafarer job vacancies for many different ranks and vessels.

From Chief Officer jobs to ship Fitter jobs and from jobs on container ships to oil tanker jobs, take a look at who our shipowner clients and manning agencies are hiring and apply today!

Eve Church

Eve Church

Eve is Martide's content writer and publishes regular posts on everything from our maritime recruitment and crew planning software to life at sea.

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