A Driver’s Guide to Health: How to Deal with Stress
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define stress as “a reaction to a situation where a person feels threatened or anxious.”* Working as a full-time truck driver can be stressful, but stress is a natural part of life, and it’s inevitable in all demographics. How you deal with it is an important part of taking care of your physical and emotional well-being.
Because we are going to experience stress throughout our lifetime, coping depends mostly on our attitude and perspective, and how we build our lifestyle. If you are having a difficult time handling your stress, why not try these tips?
First, learn to recognize the symptoms of stress. According to CDCP*, some common reactions to stress can include, but are not limited to: sadness, anger, irritability, guilt, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, increased heart rate, reduced interest in usual activities, and physical pains such as headaches, back pains, and stomach problems.
Then, identify the cause of stress. It may be big or small. Think of instances that cause you to react in one of the ways listed above. Is it loneliness and feeling of isolation because you are away from your family? Is it related to your health? Maybe you feel disrespected by others, or are concerned about new driving regulation. While looking for external causes, also remember to look closely into your habits and attitudes. Knowing the root of the problems will help you resolve your stress better.
The next step is to put problems into perspective by finding healthy ways to cope with stress.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
- Healthy Eating Habits – Nutrition levels affect your body’s ability to cope with stress. Try to keep your energy up and brain clear with a balanced diet.
- Physical Activities and Exercise – Exercise releases hormones that trigger positive feelings. Try these simple stretches you can do inside your cab.
- Good Sleep – Sufficient sleep is like fuel for your body and mind. Here are tips for creating good sleeping habits for truck drivers.
- Avoid Stimulants and Depressants – Although drugs, alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine may offer a temporary escape, these can lead to addiction and do not offer long-term relief.
Stress Management & Relaxation
- In-Cab Environment – While driving, try listening to some soothing or fun music. Audiobooks and podcasts on a topic you’re interested in are also great options. Scents such as lemon, lavender, jasmine, rosemary, cinnamon, and peppermint are known to calm your mind and boost productivity. Try setting up these scents in your cab or drink herbal tea with those flavors.
- Stress Diary – Start a stress journal, expressing your feelings and stress through writing. It will help you organize your thoughts as well as keep track of how you reacted in response or what you did to feel better.
- Support from the Loved Ones – Talk to people you can trust about your problems, how you are feeling, how you are dealing with it, etc. You are not necessarily looking for a solution, but you might be pleasantly surprised at how much better you feel when you share with someone.
- Say “No” – Understand your limits in your personal and professional life and only take on what you can handle. You CAN be assertive in setting boundaries and be respectful at the same time.
- Faith also plays a big role in coping with stress. Devote time to your faith practices and reaffirm your beliefs. If you are a part of a community of worship, attend services and events whenever you’re home.
- Last, but not least, think positively! Positivity will help you deal with stress and raise your quality of life in general. Think of all the things you can appreciate in your life, including the positive qualities and gifts you have.
Finally, remember that Carter Express is always here to look out for our drivers. If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact Carter Express Driver Relations at 800-738-7705 ext. 1270.
If you have concerns about your mental or physical health, take advantage of the free Teledoc service provided to all Carter Express drivers.