Managing Stress as a Truck Driver
Being on the road as a truck driver has many perks – a flexible schedule, the ability to travel the country, great benefits, and most of all, the ability to work independently. However, the job is not without its challenges, and one of the most significant issues many drivers face is stress. Unconventional hours, tight deadlines, and the demands of the road can take a toll on your mental and physical well-being if left unchecked. Take a look at some of the most common detriments to a driver’s mental health.
Understanding the Stressors
- Isolation: Drivers can often spend weeks or even months on the road by themselves, isolated from their families and friends. This could potentially lead to feelings of loneliness or depression.
- Traffic and Weather: Drivers need to be prepared for anything. Heavy traffic, road closures, construction, or inclement weather can derail any well laid pre-plan. Sudden changes and having to think on the fly so often can heighten stress and fatigue.
- Irregular Sleep Patterns: Oftentimes, it can be more convenient to alter your sleep schedule to avoid traffic and meet deadlines. However, not getting consistent sleep can have a poor effect on your mental health.
- Health Concerns: When you’re spending most of your time on the road, it’s difficult to find the time to prepare healthy meals and fit in a workout. Physical activity and healthy eating have been proven to help your mood, but it can be easy to miss out on these benefits.
Steps to Reducing Stress
It can be difficult to find the advice that works for you when it comes to mental health, but doctors and long-term truck drivers alike have come up with many ways to manage some of the stress that comes with truck driving as a career.
- Support Networks: Building a strong support system is crucial for drivers who spend long stretches of time on the road. Whether it’s scheduling regular calls with family and friends, or connecting with other drivers through social media, a good network to draw advice and strength from can help you through a rough patch. Even having a pet or rider on the truck can greatly improve your mood!
- Prioritize Healthy Life Choices: Prioritizing your health by making better choices about your diet and exercise can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Taking small steps like working to improve your sleep schedule, carrying some healthier food options in the truck, and scheduling in some quick exercise throughout your day can improve your mood and your wellbeing.
- Time Management: Effective time management is a major key to reducing stress. Pre-planning your trips and preparing a backup option for any sudden changes you encounter will allow you to avoid exhaustion and unnecessary stressors.
- Mental Health Resources: Even when following these pointers, stress from your job can still creep up on you. A good, flexible, option for drivers to consider is online or in-person counseling services. Whether it’s a quick chat or an hour-long deep dive, there are professionals who can meet on your schedule to help you get to the root of your stresses, and provide even more tips on how to help work around them.
Life on the road can come with some unique stressors that can impact all areas of your life, but putting in the effort to manage them can turn out real results. It’s important to set aside some time each day to decompress and remember you’re not alone in your profession.