Pick up your phone, switch on the TV or venture out in public at this time of year and you’re immediately hit with a barrage of Yuletide messaging paying homage to the perfect family Christmas and the importance of spending the festive season with those you hold nearest and dearest.
This is all good and well when your rotation puts you at home over Christmas, but what about when its your turn to spend this most wonderful time of the year on a North Sea platform surrounded by co-workers you can barely tolerate at the best of times, and hundreds of miles away from your spouse and kids?
Cue sadness, frustration, loneliness and a general feeling of missing out on all that is good in the world.
So to help you tackle this particularly tough time of year, we’ve come up with seven top tips which should help you get through your festive offshore trip and bring you home in a positive mood ready to celebrate, albeit a little late, with your loved ones.
- Don’t dwell
It’s not easy, but try not to dwell on what you are missing out on. Throwing a pity party for one won’t make you feel any better. Instead try to focus on the positive; Are you home for New Year instead? If you’re away this year, does it mean you won’t be next year? Be thankful for what you have and remember why you are there in the first place - to provide a better lifestyle for your family. It’ll be worth it in the end.
- Help and get help
The offshore industry is undoubtedly a very masculine environment which has historically focussed plenty on safety but very little on (mental) health. But if you are struggling, know that you are absolutely not alone, and the industry is increasingly recognising that emotional wellbeing is an important aspect of safety in the workplace. Do not be afraid to ask for help or to seek out a friendly face.
Equally, if you see someone who looks like they are feeling down, offer them a kind smile and a positive word. It might make all the difference to their day.
- Use video call to stay in touch
There’s nothing to beat seeing your family face-to-face at Christmas but talking over the phone is better than nothing. Remember that Christmas day is often fraught as your spouse/partner struggles to juggle elaborate dinner prep with entertaining the kids and hosting extended family members. Arrange a suitable time to call in advance so they can be ready for your call and you won’t be made to feel like an inconvenience.
- Organise a Christmas celebration for when you get home
Plan a family get-together for early January or whenever you get home. That way you still get to enjoy the spirit of Christmas and you’ve got something to look forward to whilst you are away.
- Plan your gift giving in advance
Alleviate the feeling of guilt at being away by having all your gifts planned, purchased and wrapped in advance. Leave everyone something special under the tree before you go and encourage them to wait until your video call to open them. Hopefully they’ll be organised too and will give you something to take offshore to enjoy on the day.
- Bring Christmas to the rig
Try to encourage your colleagues to enter into the festive spirit and organise a Secret Santa or ask everyone to wear a Christmas jumper on the day. This will need to be planned prior to your offshore trip but could make a big difference on the day.
- Think long term about Mental Health
Remember that mental health is for life, not just for Christmas. Take any of these top tips and apply them to other trips where appropriate. Encourage your Employer to consider the health and well being of all personnel and to implement a range of support initiatives which challenge the stigma of mental health, support positive wellbeing, train team members to spot a colleague who is struggling and equip them with the skills required to help when it matters.
RelyOn Nutec can assist your Employer to become Mental Health Aware by working with your HR/OH departments to design and implement a strategy that works for your workplace and to train select individuals to become Mental Health First Aiders and Champions.