What we learned about ‘blue health’ after a day at sea
In August 2022, team Absolute made the journey down to Falmouth for a team day out. Not entirely sure what to expect, beyond a day of team building at sea, learning more about the concept of ‘blue health’ – we travelled in anticipation.
The day began with a rendezvous at Sea Sanctuary’s Sail HQ to meet the team, including on-board therapist, Phil. With excitement building for a day on board the tall ship Irene, we made our way to the docks for a run down on life vest safety, before boarding the sea taxi that would take us out to Irene.
In the distance we saw the magnificent ship which, in a former life, featured in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. A vessel fit for the Golden Age of piracy, we soon discovered that she’d burnt down in 2003, before later being restored to her former glory at a cost of over £3 million.
The purpose of the day
Underpinning Absolute’s commitment to sustainability is our adoption of 5 UN sustainable development goals, one of which is SDG 3, good health and wellbeing. We recognise the importance of promoting positive physical and mental health at work, and take steps to ensure the wellbeing of all of our team.
One of the ways we do this is through team days out, in which we all take a step back from our computers to bond and take time to focus on ourselves. This day was a chance for us to experience the concept of ‘blue health’, a unique approach to improving wellbeing that centres around bodies of water.
Arriving on board
Once on board, we were introduced to Irene’s crew and had a ‘check-in’, where we discussed our hopes and expectations for the day as well as our general feelings in that moment – this was a big theme for the day as we were encouraged to leave behind any lingering thoughts or worries and embrace the experience of being at sea.
We were soon on a tour of Irene, taking in the engine room, state room, cabin rooms and the galley – the territory of on-board chef, Sam, who produced a delicious lunch, and refreshments throughout the day.
Next, we received an extensive safety briefing before being put to work ‘sweating’ and ‘tailing’ lines to hoist the sails and set sail for the day.
With the sails billowing in the wind, and Irene safely out of Falmouth harbour, we sat down with Phil to take note of our surroundings and listen to a host of nautical extracts from well-known novels and poems. We were urged to take the time to ground ourselves and clear our minds of any thoughts that didn’t relate to the ‘here and now’. Helping us to achieve this we focussed on a point in the distance whilst Phil encouraged us to think in turn about things we could hear, smell and feel by doing so we began to immerse ourselves in the here and now.
This experience was a little alien to us, as we rarely get chance to focus on being present amid a series of urgent deadlines – an experience that we were told, has become increasingly common in modern life.
Phil explained that our brains have a left and right hemisphere – the left side is the more practical side, used for advanced cognition, while the right side is used for more emotional or artistic means. It’s believed that given the changes to human life over time, we now use the left hemisphere more than the right hemisphere, leaving it exhausted. Mindfulness exercises enable us to think only of the present. These help to restore some of the balance between the right and left hemispheres of our brains.
Naturally, these exercises provided a break from the non-stop nature of our day-to-day lives, and we remained still for some time after the mindfulness session had finished to reflect on how we could implement this into our workday.
We are fortunate that our offices at Dunchideock Barton have access to our own ‘blue space’; a pond overlooked by outdoor seating. This makes for the perfect backdrop to implement blue health mindfulness away from the coast.
What is ‘blue health’?
The idea behind blue health which, mental health charity, Sea Sanctuary, helped to pioneer, is that blue spaces, such as the sea or lakes, have a therapeutic quality that helps to improve mental wellbeing. Sea Sanctuary has long believed in the health and wellbeing benefits of blue spaces, and there is now a growing pool of research to back their beliefs.
This research finds a link between outdoor blue spaces and improved mental health, general wellbeing, and increased physical activity. Team Absolute experienced this link first-hand as we were set to task throughout the day, reeling in anchors and hoisting sails, but with smiles all-round.
In a fast-paced industry, it’s rare to have the opportunity to detach from work. Spending the day at sea on Irene provided an ideal opportunity to clear our minds and provided us with the tools to be able to practice mindfulness back on dry land.
If you think your team could benefit from a day at sea, learning about blue health, visit Sea Sanctuary’s website for more information: https://seasanctuary.org.uk/