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Crew Coach: Self-care critical in times of pervasive fear

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Crew Coach: by Capt. Rob Gannon

It seems like there’s a whole lot of fear going around lately. I’ve been paying attention to the people I’m coming in contact with, even casual short interactions with strangers, and quite often fear and worry seem to be front and center around their comments and opinions. There’s so much coming at us in shoreside life these days – 24/7 news and biased commentary filled with uncivil discourse. How much is healthy to take in? I think it’s a good time to be working and moving around on a yacht. Some days I wish I were back out there.

I know we all have the option in our land-based lives to limit and control how much of the chatter and negative noise we let in, but I for one find it challenging to shut it down. And based on what I’m hearing from others, it seems many are in the same boat. I realize we need to know about certain big events, like the approach of a dangerous hurricane – but then we get pounded for over a week with possible catastrophic scenarios that make our heads spin. The coverage of big, usually bad events overtakes our airwaves, and I think it’s a cumulative effect that’s making folks really uneasy. Don’t even get me started on politics, which seems to be operating as a great divider of people these days. It all adds up and can make life feel heavy if we don’t stay centered.

By staying centered, I mean balancing out and being careful about what we take in. I talk with coaching clients of mine a lot about the awareness of what we’re taking in. If we don’t take some care with this, it can shape our perceptions and beliefs – and not always in a good way. There’s a term in the wellness field called radical self-care. This is a term about balancing it all out. If our incoming info is loaded with stressful and/or negative messages and imagery, we really need to take care of ourselves to keep the damaging effects at bay. Exercise, yoga, meditation or just relaxing pursuits can do us wonders. They can literally save our lives. Let me add loving and feeling loved and appreciated to the mix as well.

There is a reason wellness fields are more popular than ever these days, and it goes right back to living in this modern Western world and fear. Fear can run our lives if left unchecked. We all have the built-in fear response, that fight-or-flight response that alerts us to and possibly saves us from dangers. It’s the good, healthy side of fear. It releases hormones to jack us up a bit to survive the danger. But that response is meant to be turned on only when needed, and shut back down when not needed. If we are constantly fearful and releasing these hormones, our systems can’t handle it. Over time, it weakens our immune system and causes cardiovascular issues and gastrointestinal problems. Not a whole lot of fun.

Many of us can think of folks we know who are physically affected by fear and stress. I’ve got a good friend who goes to doctors periodically with stomach issues. They can never find anything. He worries and stresses about a lot of stuff. Then there’s the mental side, where fear can put the brakes on growth and achievement faster than anything I’ve ever seen. It can hold us back in our careers, crush confidence and stifle new ideas and dreams. Fears may come from the past, they may come from worry about the future –  but one thing is certain, they will  mess up the present.

Fear seems to be on a roll these days, and that’s not a good thing. I think we all need to watch what we take in on a regular basis and shine some awareness on how we’re doing with that. Balance ourselves out with some self-care and maybe just be kind to one another. I’m land-based these days as a captain and life/wellness coach. It’s what I chose, and I generally enjoy my lifestyle. But there are times when I reflect wistfully on a yacht delivery or charter season – back when I lived wholly in the moment, and the news of the day was just an afterthought.

Enjoy the voyage.

Capt. Rob Gannon is a 30-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach (www.yachtcrewcoach.com). Comments are welcome below.

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