Truck drivers protect your mental health, too!
As a truck driver, did you know that taking good care of yourself, both mentally and physically, is a key component of being able to do your best possible work? It’s true—truckers often work long, grueling hours in cramped and isolated conditions, which can take its toll on their general well-being over time. When this happens, drivers aren’t doing themselves any favors or setting themselves up for long-term success on the job, which may be why burnout is a common problem among truck drivers.
If you’re a truck driver, and plan on being one for the long haul, consider taking advantage of the following tips for maintaining good mental health.
Take regular breaks
Commercial driving jobs come with a lot of pressure, but don’t feel like you need to skip breaks. Having a dedicated route makes it easier to take a few minutes at regular intervals and help make a positive impact on your long-term success. You’ll feel happier and have more energy.
Take your time off when you can
In addition to your regular breaks, schedule some time off to take a long break from work. At Sisbro, we encourage drivers to use their paid vacation time, it’s part of your compensation package so don’t be afraid to use it. This is your time to focus on family, friends, hobbies, and everything else that brings you joy. Time like this can make you happier, which makes you more relaxed and gives you the energy to do your job well.
One of the hardest parts about commercial driving is the feeling of isolation some drivers experience. It’s not like working in an office with a lot of other people, which can start to feel lonely after a while. Try to form strong professional relationships with other drivers, dispatchers, shippers, and receivers you work with. Don’t forget to make time to call family and friends from the road.
Talk it out
Most people don’t want to talk about their feelings and, let’s be honest, no one wants to admit they have a problem. However, being open and honest about how you are feeling and how you are dealing with the day-to-day stresses of life on the road can be beneficial to combating mental health issues. Loneliness is one of the number one factors to mental health disorders. And life on the road can lead to loneliness if you let it.
Get your rest
Sleep deprivation and mental health are closely related. We know, getting a full 8 hour night of sleep is asking a little much. But sleep deprivation is one of the most common symptoms in mental health disorders. However, there are things you can do to increase the quality of sleep when the quantity of sleep is near impossible. Avoid caffeine six hours prior to bedtime. Also, avoid nicotine and alcohol. Alcohol, although it makes some people sleepy, wears off within a few hours and interrupts the normal sleep cycles. Nicotine on the other hand, is a stimulant and increases your heart rate which causes difficulty relaxing and falling asleep.
Stay off social media
When on a break, driver’s might be tempted to use their phone to check social media sites. However, using your phone can sometimes add to your stress. Sometimes just turning off your notifications can help clear your mind. Consider reading a book. Reading can be a great escape. When you get sucked into a book, you forget about everything else. This is a great way to clear the mind and focus it on something more positive.
Take care of your body
Keeping yourself clean and your body in shape is key to maintaining good mental health. Of course, you won’t be able to hit the gym or always be in the mood to do exercise. Still, you’ll need to find time to do some exercises or go for a short walk, even if it’s for 10 or 15 minutes. These short exercises are proven to boost mood, reduce anxiety, and help you feel better overall. If you aren’t up for exercise, you can also practice yoga, meditation, or mindfulness. Scientists found that yoga might be the most effective exercise for enhancing mood and reducing anxiety.
Experts point out that there is a clear link between a good diet and stronger mental health. That doesn't mean you have to cut the burger and fries out of your diet entirely, but if you are more proactive about choosing salads and low-carb options the next time you make (or stop for) lunch, your body and mind will thank you.
Yes, we know – water makes you have to stop. We get it – but honestly, if you drink a good amount of water regularly/daily, your body will adapt and it will start absorbing the water more efficiently. We totally understand that coffee is a necessity, and drinking it black is actually not so bad for you at all. Mix that with a good healthy dose of water every day and you will feel great both physically and mentally.
Keep a journal
We know it sounds silly – this is something that a girl in junior high school would do! However, keeping a simple journal of your feelings and thoughts on the road can be a wonderful creative outlet. You might find that you enjoy writing more than you could have realized, and getting in touch with yourself can be a great exercise in mental health and overall mental stability.
Maintaining good mental health is important to the safety of yourself and others on the road, and we know this line of work offers unique challenges to overcome. Sisbro knows that being a truck driver is one of the hardest jobs out there, but with our help, life doesn’t have to take a huge toll on you mentally and physically. Be sure you’re following these tips when you are out on the road!