Navigating Mental Health Challenges Among Cruise Ship Crew: Understanding positive thinking and self-talk - Part 2

Aug 21, 2023

Positive thinking on the cruise ship doesn't mean ignoring life's less pleasant situations, your abusive manager, hectic working schedule, etc. Positive thinking means approaching unpleasantness more positively and productively. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.

Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. When you wake up in your cabin, thank Lord for all blessings in your life. Thank Lord for all gifts because when you are thankful for what you have, you will end up having more. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions you create because of a lack of information or expectations due to preconceived ideas of what may happen.

If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you're likely an optimist who practices positive thinking.

The health benefits of positive thinking

Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:

  1. Increased life span
  2. Lower rates of depression
  3. Lower levels of distress and pain
  4. Greater resistance to illnesses
  5. Better psychological and physical well-being
  6. Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease and stroke
  7. Reduced risk of death from cancer
  8. Reduced risk of death from respiratory conditions
  9. Reduced risk of death from infections
  10. Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

It needs to be clarified why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits. One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, reducing stress's harmful health effects on your body.

It's also thought that optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet, and don't smoke or drink alcohol in excess.

Identifying negative thinking

Is your self-talk positive or negative? Some common forms of negative self-talk include:

Filtering. You magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all the positive ones. For example, you had a great day at work. You completed your tasks ahead of time and were complimented for doing a speedy and thorough job. That evening, you focus only on your plan to do even more tasks and forget about the compliments you received.

Personalizing. When something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself. For example, you hear that something bad happened in your workplace on the ship, the guest complained about somebody, and there will be a department meeting, and you assume that this is probably still your fault and the guest probably complained about you.

Catastrophizing. You automatically anticipate the worst without facts that the worse will happen. The bartender in the crew bar gave you the wrong drink, and you will allow this little event to destroy the rest of your evening.

Blaming. You try to say someone else is responsible for what happened to you instead of yourself. You avoid being responsible for your thoughts and feelings.

Saying you "should" do something. You think of all the things you think you should do and blame yourself for not doing them.

Magnifying. You make a big deal out of minor problems.

Perfectionism. Keeping impossible standards and trying to be more perfect sets you up for failure. Relax a little bit; nobody around you is perfect, either.

Polarizing. You see things only as either good or bad. There is no middle ground.

Focusing on positive thinking

You can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. The process is simple, but it does take time and practice — you're creating a new habit, after all. Following are some ways to think and behave more positively and optimistically:

Identify areas to change. If you want to become more optimistic and engage in more positive thinking, first identify areas of your life that you usually think negatively about, whether it's work, life changes, or a relationship. You can start small by focusing on one area to approach more positively. Think of a positive thought to manage your stress instead of a negative one.

Check yourself. Periodically during the day, stop and evaluate what you're thinking. If you find that your thoughts are mainly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them.

Be open to humor. Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Seek humor in everyday happenings. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed. This specifically applies to the cruise ship work, as life on board is already stressful enough. Please give it a laugh sometimes, and make it more light and manageable. 

Follow a healthy lifestyle. Aim to exercise for about 30 minutes on most days of the week. (yes, it is possible on the ship). You can also break it up into 5- or 10-minute chunks during the day. Exercise can positively affect mood and reduce stress. Follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body. Get enough sleep(if it is possible on the cruise ship). And learn techniques to manage stress.

Surround yourself with positive people. Make sure those in your life are positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback. Negative people may increase your stress level and make you doubt your ability to manage stress healthily.

Practice positive self-talk. Start by following one simple rule: Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you. Think about things you're thankful for in your life.

Staying positive is essential to life on board the cruise ship for many reasons. As you encounter hardships, obstacles, and other unexpected situations, you may need help remembering those reasons.

Being positive can help you in many ways, while being negative can hold you back and bring you down. Life should be enjoyed, so do what it takes to live a fulfilling life.

Why Staying Positive is Essential in Life and in the cruise industry?

Your life will improve with positivity, and those around you will become more positive. If you need further proof that positivity is beneficial, there is research to back it up. As you go through life, remember these reasons for staying positive.

Staying positive on the ship is tool number one for maintaining your productivity levels. It's a foundational rule for keeping your sanity. I know there is your manager and some babalu colleagues, and the guest complains all the time... These are manageable obstacles; it's part of the job; you must think about it this way. I experienced some of the toughest contracts on board the ship; sometimes, I struggled mentally. A bad, biased, ignorant manager, rude customers, and colleagues always talked behind my back(SAPO). Yet, I kept my sanity, and it was hard. Sometimes you have to push yourself to put a smile on your face, even if you feel like you want to cry. There are days when you have to influence yourself in a positive way BECAUSE NOBODY ELSE WILL DO THAT. Remain calm no matter what happens, take care of yourself, and remember, you are strong and beautiful. God bless you!