Sailing and Therapy: How to Access Mental Health Support on the Water
Sailing and Therapy: How to Access Mental Health Support on the Water

Discover how to prioritize your mental health while sailing the open seas with your family.

Sailing and Therapy: How to Access Mental Health Support on the Water

Sailing the open seas with your family can be an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling experience. The freedom and adventure that comes with leaving the rat race behind and embracing a life on the water is truly unparalleled. However, it’s important to acknowledge that this lifestyle can also come with its own unique set of challenges and stressors. In this article, we’ll explore the topic of managing stress and anxiety while living aboard, and discuss how to access mental health support while sailing.

The Importance of Mental Health at Sea

Before diving into the various resources and strategies for managing stress and anxiety on the water, it’s important to understand why mental health is such a crucial aspect of the sailing lifestyle. Living aboard a boat and traveling the world with your family can be an incredible adventure, but it can also be isolating, physically demanding, and emotionally taxing.

Some common stressors that sailors may face include:

  • The constant need for vigilance and problem-solving
  • The physical demands of sailing and boat maintenance
  • The isolation from friends, family, and familiar support networks
  • The potential for dangerous weather and other emergencies
  • The financial pressures of maintaining a boat and traveling

These stressors can take a toll on your mental health, and it’s essential to have strategies in place to manage them effectively. By prioritizing your mental well-being, you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges that come with the sailing lifestyle and enjoy the many rewards it has to offer.

Recognizing the Signs of Stress and Anxiety

The first step in managing stress and anxiety on the water is to recognize the signs that you or a family member may be struggling. Some common symptoms of stress and anxiety include:

  • Persistent feelings of worry or fear
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or muscle tension

If you notice any of these signs in yourself or a loved one, it’s important to take action and seek support. Ignoring these symptoms can lead to more serious mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety disorders.

Strategies for Managing Stress and Anxiety at Sea

There are several strategies that can help you manage stress and anxiety while living aboard a boat. Some of these strategies include:

1. Establish a Routine

One of the most effective ways to manage stress and anxiety is to establish a daily routine. This can help create a sense of stability and predictability, which can be especially comforting when you’re living in an ever-changing environment like the open sea. Your routine might include regular meal times, exercise, boat maintenance tasks, and designated time for relaxation and leisure activities.

2. Stay Physically Active

Regular physical activity is a proven way to reduce stress and anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters, and can also help improve sleep and overall well-being. Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, whether it’s through swimming, yoga, or bodyweight exercises that can be done on the boat.

3. Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation, can help calm the mind and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Set aside time each day to practice these techniques, and consider incorporating them into your bedtime routine to promote better sleep.

4. Stay Connected with Loved Ones

Maintaining connections with friends and family back home can be a powerful way to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness. Make an effort to stay in touch through phone calls, emails, or video chats, and consider scheduling regular catch-up sessions to stay connected.

5. Seek Out a Supportive Community

Connecting with other sailors and liveaboards can provide a valuable support network and help you feel less isolated. Look for online forums, social media groups, or local sailing clubs where you can share experiences, ask questions, and offer support to others in the sailing community.

Accessing Mental Health Support on the Water

While the strategies listed above can be helpful in managing stress and anxiety, there may be times when you or a family member need additional support from a mental health professional. Here are some options for accessing mental health support while sailing:

1. Teletherapy

Teletherapy, or online therapy, is a convenient and accessible option for sailors who need mental health support. Many therapists and counselors now offer their services through video conferencing platforms, allowing you to connect with a professional from the comfort of your boat. To find a teletherapy provider, search online directories or ask for recommendations from your primary care doctor or other sailors.

2. In-Person Therapy

If you prefer in-person therapy, consider scheduling appointments during your stops at various ports. This may require some planning and coordination, but it can be a valuable opportunity to receive face-to-face support from a mental health professional. To find a therapist in your destination, search online directories or ask for recommendations from local sailors or marina staff.

3. Crisis Hotlines and Text Lines

In times of crisis or severe distress, it’s important to have access to immediate support. Many countries have crisis hotlines or text lines that offer free, confidential support from trained counselors. Save the contact information for these services in your phone or onboard computer, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you or a family member are in need of urgent support.


Sailing the open seas with your family can be an incredible adventure, but it’s important to prioritize mental health and well-being along the way. By recognizing the signs of stress and anxiety, implementing effective coping strategies, and accessing professional support when needed, you can ensure that your sailing journey is a fulfilling and rewarding experience for the entire family.