The Connection Between Anxiety and Seasickness
The Connection Between Anxiety and Seasickness

Discover how anxiety and seasickness are connected and what you can do to prevent and manage both conditions while on your sailing adventures.

The Connection Between Anxiety and Seasickness

Ahoy, fellow sailors and adventurers! As you embark on your journey to leave the rat race behind and explore the world with your family, it’s essential to be prepared for the challenges that come with living on the open sea. One such challenge that many sailors face is seasickness. In this article, we’ll delve into the connection between anxiety and seasickness, and provide you with practical advice and remedies to help you and your family stay healthy and happy at sea.

Table of Contents

Understanding Seasickness

Seasickness, also known as motion sickness, is a common condition that affects many people who spend time on boats. It occurs when the brain receives conflicting signals from the inner ear, eyes, and other sensory receptors, leading to symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.

While some people are more prone to seasickness than others, it can affect anyone, regardless of age or experience at sea. Factors that can increase your risk of seasickness include:

  • A history of motion sickness
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Fatigue
  • Dehydration
  • Poor ventilation or stuffy environments

Anxiety and seasickness are closely linked, as both conditions can exacerbate each other. Anxiety can make you more susceptible to seasickness, and experiencing seasickness can, in turn, increase your anxiety levels.

When you’re anxious, your body releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to rise. This heightened state of arousal can make you more sensitive to motion, increasing your risk of experiencing seasickness.

Conversely, when you’re seasick, your body’s natural response is to try and regain balance and stability. This can lead to feelings of panic and anxiety, as your brain struggles to process the conflicting sensory information it’s receiving.

Understanding the connection between anxiety and seasickness is crucial, as it can help you take steps to prevent and manage both conditions while at sea.

Preventing Seasickness

Prevention is always better than cure, and there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of seasickness and anxiety while sailing:

  1. Choose the right boat: If you’re prone to seasickness, opt for a boat with a stable and comfortable motion. Catamarans and larger monohulls tend to be more stable than smaller boats, making them a better choice for those susceptible to motion sickness.

  2. Get your sea legs: Spend time on the boat before setting sail to acclimate yourself to the motion. This can help reduce anxiety and make you less prone to seasickness.

  3. Choose your location wisely: If possible, avoid sailing in rough seas or areas with strong currents. Calmer waters will make for a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.

  4. Stay hydrated: Dehydration can exacerbate seasickness and anxiety symptoms, so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

  5. Eat light, frequent meals: Consuming smaller meals more frequently can help keep your stomach settled and reduce the risk of seasickness. Opt for bland, easy-to-digest foods such as crackers, bread, and bananas.

  6. Maintain good ventilation: Fresh air can help alleviate seasickness symptoms and reduce anxiety. Ensure your boat is well-ventilated and spend time on deck whenever possible.

  7. Focus on the horizon: Fixing your gaze on a stable point in the distance, such as the horizon, can help your brain process motion more effectively and reduce seasickness symptoms.

Natural Remedies for Seasickness

If you’re looking for natural ways to prevent and treat seasickness, consider the following options:

  1. Ginger: Ginger has long been used as a natural remedy for nausea and vomiting. You can consume ginger in various forms, such as ginger tea, ginger ale, or ginger candies.

  2. Acupressure: Applying pressure to specific points on the body, such as the P6 point on the wrist, can help alleviate seasickness symptoms. You can purchase acupressure wristbands designed specifically for motion sickness relief.

  3. Aromatherapy: Certain essential oils, such as peppermint and lavender, can help reduce nausea and anxiety. Try diffusing these oils on your boat or applying them to a cloth to inhale the scent.

  4. Deep breathing exercises: Practicing deep, slow breaths can help calm your nervous system and reduce anxiety, which may help alleviate seasickness symptoms.

Over-the-Counter and Prescription Medications

If natural remedies aren’t providing enough relief, there are several over-the-counter and prescription medications available to help prevent and treat seasickness:

  1. Antihistamines: Medications such as Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) and Bonine (meclizine) can help reduce nausea, vomiting, and dizziness associated with seasickness. Be aware that these medications can cause drowsiness, so use caution when operating your boat.

  2. Scopolamine patches: These prescription patches are applied behind the ear and release a steady dose of scopolamine, a medication that helps prevent nausea and vomiting. They can be effective for up to three days, making them a convenient option for longer sailing trips.

  3. Anti-anxiety medications: If anxiety is a significant factor in your seasickness, your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines to help reduce your symptoms.

Always consult with your doctor before starting any new medication, and be sure to discuss any potential side effects or interactions with other medications you may be taking.

Coping with Anxiety-Induced Seasickness

If you find that anxiety is a significant contributor to your seasickness, consider implementing the following strategies to help manage your anxiety while at sea:

  1. Practice relaxation techniques: Techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization can help calm your mind and body, reducing anxiety and seasickness symptoms.

  2. Stay active: Engaging in physical activity, such as walking around the boat or doing light exercises, can help distract your mind from anxious thoughts and reduce seasickness symptoms.

  3. Create a calming environment: Surround yourself with comforting items, such as soft blankets, calming music, or soothing scents, to help create a relaxing atmosphere on your boat.

  4. Seek support: Talk to your fellow sailors or family members about your anxiety and seasickness concerns. They may be able to offer support, advice, or simply a listening ear.

  5. Consider therapy: If your anxiety is significantly impacting your ability to enjoy your sailing adventures, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor who specializes in anxiety disorders.


The connection between anxiety and seasickness is undeniable, but with the right knowledge and tools, you can manage both conditions and enjoy your time at sea. By understanding the link between these two conditions, taking steps to prevent seasickness, and exploring various remedies and coping strategies, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the open waters with confidence and ease.

Remember, every sailor’s journey is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Be patient with yourself, and don’t be afraid to try different strategies until you find the ones that work best for you. Fair winds and following seas, fellow adventurers!