Having a job as a truck driver offers many perks. The pay is good, you get plenty of freedom and flexibility, and there is a certain peace that can be achieved while traversing a long stretch of road. However, the job is not without its drawbacks. In addition to being alone a lot of the time, employees in the trucking industry also have to contend with an unstable economy.
Labor shortages, rising fuel costs, and competition in the market can mean that a driver could be working overtime today and then be out of a job tomorrow. It can be a formidable industry due to these fluctuations and demands, so it is important for truckers to live a healthy lifestyle and keep a level head to avoid anxiety and burnout. Below, we will talk a bit about the industry today and how truckers can avoid frustration and stress through a healthy routine.
The Reality of the Trucking Industry
Right now, there is a lot going on in the world, with many issues directly affecting the trucking industry. For instance, supply chain issues have affected many truckers negatively, forcing them to work longer hours to keep up with demand. Caution is required when out on the road, and if drivers are going too fast, driving while tired, or ignoring the rules of the road to meet deadlines, then it can lead to dangerous situations.
If the demand wasn’t enough, there is also a nationwide trucker shortage. There are fewer young people coming into the trucking industry and more older drivers retiring, which leaves a large gap that is difficult to fill. Again, the result is often that truckers drive too fast and cut corners so they can pick up their next load and avoid delays. Needless to say, it is a lot to contend with, and truck drivers are stuck in the middle.
It is important for employers to remember that just because there may be an unstable economy, that does not mean that you should take it out on the drivers. If the team is pushed too hard and there are accidents on the road or employees quit out of straight exhaustion, then it won’t do anyone any good. Instead, it is important to listen to the drivers and have an open-door policy where they can come to management to explain their frustrations, and they should expect a positive plan of action in return.
Your Health Is the Priority
No matter what is happening in the world, your health needs to be the priority. All full-time employees should be provided with a benefits package that includes doctor visits, eye appointments, and dental checks. More importantly, as a driver, you need to take advantage of these benefits by going to the doctor for your annual checkup and filling any necessary medications.
You should also make it a point to talk to the doctor about ailments that are closely aligned with the trucking industry. For instance, since you are in the sun a lot, it is a good idea to go in for regular dermatologist appointments. They will screen for skin cancer and other ailments. Before going to an appointment, check your body for potential problem areas and bring them up to the doctor. Truckers may also deal with back and neck strain by sitting for too long. If you experience these feelings, use your insurance and see a doctor who can refer you to a specialist.
Regardless of the economy, it is always important to live a healthy lifestyle as a truck driver. While truck driving, you can still eat right, get enough sleep, and avoid alcohol and smoking to feel better all year round. You should also make it a point to drink enough water during the day so you can avoid dehydration and help your body to function properly during long drives. Coffee may get you going in the morning, but try to avoid going overboard — especially if you have any underlying heart conditions or take medicines that may interact with caffeine.
While physical health is important, so is staying mentally fit and avoiding the effects of burnout. If you work too hard and for too long without taking breaks, you can start to feel overwhelmed and anxious. Over time, that can lead to more serious ailments, including depression and feelings of helplessness. To avoid burnout, you need to have a good work-life balance.
In order to achieve this balance, you need to set boundaries. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states that a truck driver can only be behind the wheel for a maximum of 11 hours in a 24-hour period, so work these hours and then take your rest. Do not let your manager pressure you into overworking, or it could lead to physical and mental issues. During your rest time, make sure to get enough sleep. Aim for seven to nine hours so you can wake up feeling mentally refreshed.
It is also important that you take advantage of the vacation time that is offered by your company. The point of time off is that you get to step away from the job and clear your mind. It also gives you time to spend with your family. Remember that while you need a job to support your loved ones, it should not dominate your life. Have pride in your work, but also make time for yourself.
In the end, while it may be easier said than done during an unstable economy, it is important to prioritize your body and mind. By doing so, you will be happier overall, and it will be easier to make it through the tough times.
Indiana Lee is a writer, reader, and jigsaw puzzle enthusiast from the Pacific Northwest. An expert on business operations, leadership, marketing, and lifestyle, you can follow her on Twitter @IndianaLee3