Truck drivers have a reputation for being tough. And while you work hard and are dedicated to your jobs, “tough” doesn’t mean you’re impervious to the stresses of life on the road. In fact, just being a truck driver puts you at a higher risk for depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Not focusing on your mental health can also affect your ability to focus on the job and contribute to unsafe decision-making or destructive behaviors. Since May is Mental Health Month, we wanted to put together some tips to help yourself and others. Now, more than ever, it’s important to focus on our mental health and stay connected with one another!
- Keep Your Mind Sharp
Doing brain exercises plays an important role in caring for the mind. They can help boost your memory, focus your concentration, and allow you to pay better attention to your daily tasks.
- Do a jigsaw puzzle – it strengthens your ability to see how pieces fit within the big picture.
- Learn a new dance move to improve your memory and how quickly your brain can process things.
- Take up a new hobby or learn a new language.
- Figure out a new way to do a daily task.
- Do word or number puzzles like Sudoku or crossword puzzles.
- Stay Connected With Loved Ones
Thankfully, technology helps us stay connected to our loved ones no matter how far away we are.
- Video chats, phone calls, and text messages are literally at your fingertips whenever you have a break from driving.
- Bring photos or sentimental items that remind you of home.
- Send postcards to your friends and family.
- Utilize our Carter Express passenger policy to bring a friend or family member with you on one of your trips.
- Get Enough Quality Sleep
Altered sleep patterns, whether not enough or too much, can affect many mental health issues. Sleep apnea, for one, can be linked to chronic fatigue and depression and is common among truck drivers.
- Set a nightly routine to get your body ready for sleep.
- Avoid caffeine and heavy meals in the evening.
- Limit the use of electronics before bed.
- Try a weighted blanket to help you stay asleep.
- Keep a sleep diary to help you evaluate your sleeping habits.
- Talk with your doctor about a sleep study.
- Find Ways to Relax
Truck driving jobs can be high stress, so it’s important for drivers to find ways to relax.
- Get moving. Stretching and exercising will not only help you physically but can help you clear your mind and ease tense emotions.
- Listen to music or a podcast.
- Get a good night’s sleep (see #3).
- Practice deep breathing techniques.
- Know the Warning Signs
One of the most important things about improving your mental health is to know when you are struggling. Recognizing the warning signs of anxiety or depression will help you utilize your relaxation tools or seek help faster. Common symptoms of depression and anxiety include:
- feeling nervous or tense
- difficulty concentrating
- a sense of apprehension or dread
- extreme sweating
- upset stomach
- muscle tension
- headaches or body aches
- feelings of hopelessness
- lost interest in activities you used to enjoy
- mood swings
- Seek Help
It’s never too early to ask for help if something feels “off”. Even if what you are experiencing or feeling falls in a normal range of emotions, it’s always beneficial to have someone to talk to.
- Carter Express drivers have access to free Teledoc services, which allows you to schedule your physical and mental health appointments wherever you are.
- Take advantage of our Carter Express Driver Relations team to discuss what tools and procedures could help reduce driver stress on the road.
- If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Being a truck driver is one of the hardest jobs out there, but it does not have to take a huge toll on you mentally and physically. Use some of these tips to help you improve your mental health and enjoy your time out on the road.