Despite the many misconceptions about trucking careers, being a trucker is actually quite rewarding. After all, you are the backbone of our country’s economy and you help families put food on their tables every day. Despite the high points, working as a trucker still requires long hours of solitude, constant sitting, and time away from your family. Regardless of how optimistic you may typically be, it can sometimes be hard to stay positive, and your mental health could take a hit.
The good news is that there are many tactics that you can use to keep your mental health in check, even when you are on the road. Let’s talk about the reasons that truckers may experience stress and what you can do to feel better today.
Signs and Reasons for Your Stress
Working as a trucker can sometimes be a thankless job, as you work tirelessly to transport products from one place to another. The job requires long days of sitting for hours on end while being isolated from other people. Plus, you need to focus on the road during your entire shift to keep up with deadlines and avoid a vehicle incident.
The work alone could lead to mental health issues, especially if you don’t have a proper work/life balance. You need to set boundaries for how long you will work. While overtime may be required from time to time, if you are constantly working long hours, then you could experience burnout. The symptoms associated with burnout include headaches, fatigue, and a loss of concentration, which is the last thing that you need when out on the road. It is important that you know your limits so that you never get to that point.
If you pride yourself on your strong work ethic, then you may not necessarily recognize when you are pushing yourself too far, and that can be dangerous. For that reason, it is important to understand the warning signs of poor mental health, which can include insomnia, extreme sweating, upset stomach, and feelings of hopelessness. If you feel these ailments on a recurring basis, then it is time to make a change in your life.
Find Ways to De-stress
It is important that you find ways to de-stress both when you are driving and during your off days. One way you can keep up your spirits is to call your family and have a few moments when you take your mind off your job and remember what is most important in life. While you could always call your loved ones at the end of a shift, if you are feeling down or depressed during your drive, then don’t be ashamed to pull over to a truck stop and call them up so you can recenter yourself. Your family or friends will love to hear from you.
Poor mental health can also take hold of us during our days off because we can spend that time worrying about work. Try to avoid the temptation by taking up a fun hobby that you can do on your own or with your family. Learn an instrument, try woodworking, go birdwatching, or do anything else that sparks your interest. This is a great way to find happiness by doing something enjoyable, and it will take your mind off of your troubles.
Another way to improve your mental health as a trucker is to get active and care for your physical health as well. Try 20 minutes of exercise before you leave for the day, which will keep your body in good condition and help to clear your head. During your work breaks, get out of the truck and perform some stretches to stay limber. Make sure to also get enough sleep at night. Shoot for eight hours so you can wake up feeling mentally refreshed and ready to take on a new day.
Handling Money Issues and Getting Extra Help
One of the common sources of anxiety for most people is staying afloat financially, especially in an unstable economy, and truckers are no different. It can be hard when there are fewer truckers and more loads to deliver. It can be tempting to want to make extra money just in case you find yourself in a tough financial spot in the future. Just remember to only take on as much as you know you can accomplish without going overboard.
If you are concerned about money, then you may need to improve your financial mindset. Start by familiarizing yourself with your current financial standing. How much money do you currently have coming in each month and how much do you have in savings? When you combine all of your income and compare it to your expenses, do you have enough left over where you do not need to fret and risk your mental health over making an extra few dollars?
Also, don’t compare your income to others. You may have a co-worker who is doing 14-hour shifts while making more money, but they may be putting their mental health in jeopardy. Think about all of that and make the decisions that are best for you and your family.
As a final note, if you try the tactics described here and still feel like you need help with your mental health, then it may be a good idea to see a therapist. The great thing about advancing technology is that you don’t need to drive out of your way to get professional help. Instead, you can see a therapist via video in any state by having a telehealth session online. This option allows you to stop during your route, so you can talk about your issues and get some helpful advice. There is no shame in seeing a therapist, as they can be real lifesavers and offer coping mechanisms tailored uniquely to your situation and lifestyle.
As you can see, there are many ways that you and other truckers can maintain your mental health during long stretches and busy shifts on the road. Consider the tips mentioned here, and drive from point A to point B without feeling unnecessarily bogged down by your mental health.