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Mental Health Tips from a Submariner

I wanted to write another article offering some tips on how to keep sane during COVID19. I used to be a Submariner and would disappear for months at a time. We would not surface for fresh air and we could not go outside for a run, we would have miserable food and no contact with the outside world, apart from 120 words a week from loved ones. Shockingly there was no talk about mental health during the 7 years I was in so I like to think I learnt a thing or two.

We are all so incredibly lucky, regardless of the individual situations we are in. There is always someone worse off then you are. We are lucky for so many reasons and you should focus on these as opposed to any negatives.

Have something to look forward to - From day one of my patrols, I would scout through holiday brochures and Argos catalogues and decide this is the where I want to go or this is what I want to buy once I get back home. Remind yourself there is a light at the end of the tunnel and there is a reason you are sacrificing everything that you are. So sit down with either your family or your partner and make a plan!

Routine - Have a routine, without this you will waste hours and loose track of time. We used to have dedicated curry and steak nights. Sundays were for watching afternoon war films. It helped us keep track of the days as we had no idea whether it was day or night! So, start with your morning routine, exercise or read the paper and get up at the same time every day. have your dedicated break times and ensure you write down your day plans and keep to it.

Exercise - This is essential, not only for the endorphin rush but it helps take your mind off whatever is worrying you. It gives you a break. Exercise is critical for your mental wellbeing. Healthy body healthy mind. We used to set challenges on board. So why not set challenges with you and your friends. Who can run 5k the quickest? Or who can do the most press ups? I dont know about you but If I do not exercise I become the worst version of myself. Again, we had make shift exercise areas and the equipment was either broke or covered in human waste as the weight bench was located next to the macerator!

Talk to each other - If you are struggling then talk to those who are close to you, or even those that are not. We used to confide in each other, usually whilst we were all sitting between missile tubes miles beneath the sea. No matter how big or small you think it is, we are all in the same boat. Excuse the pun. This is the same in all walks of life and I think we all need to be better in expressing how we feel.

Try something new - Things would get quite boring sometimes, theres only so much work, gym or cards you can cope with. We were encouraged to learn new things to help stimulate your mind. You feel good after learning something new also! You get a good sense of achievement. We were limited to what we could learn though, so right now we are so lucky to have the internet and access to whatever we want. So now is the ideal time to try and teach yourself something new.

These are just a few tips to help you through these trying times, if you implement them into your daily routines I promise you, you will come out on top. If anyone is struggling right now then please do reach out I would happily sit and listen!

The day we would come alongside and smell fresh air, turn your phones on and re-connect with loved ones were some of the most refreshing days of our lives. These days are coming so keep on keeping on!

Thanks for reading.

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