There’s a general perception of truckers being strong and tough, and in a way, that’s true. After all, being strong and tough is almost necessary for handling the rigors of the job. Truckers deal with long hours, stressful conditions, and a lot of time away from home. However, the mental health of truck drivers is often overlooked, but it's crucial to their ability to work and stay safe. This post offers 5 important tips for boosting trucker mental health.
Despite how tough truckers can be, that doesn’t mean that they are invincible. Even big, strong, tough truckers get hit by anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, they’re slightly more at risk for it, given the conditions they need to endure at times.
If you’re a trucker worried about your mental health while on the job, there are a few things that you can do to keep yourself in good spirits. Besides making sure you have the right insurance policy (or operate under a company’s fleet insurance policy) for your peace of mind, here are five tips that just might help you along the way.
Keep yourself sharp
Part of keeping your brain sharp and your mental health in check is doing some brain exercises here and there. Brain exercises can help you improve your focus and concentration, which you might find useful during the job. It can also help you boost memory and stave off the boredom that can sometimes bring in anxiety.
There are quite a few activities to exercise your brain, such as crossword or sudoku puzzles. You can even do jigsaw puzzles if you have enough space. You can also consider picking up a new hobby you can take on the road, learning an instrument, or learning a language. You can even play some video games or even just mobile games like Candy Crush.
Take dietary supplements
Not all supplements are for working out. Dietary supplements can help truckers to improve their mood and cognitive function. Green powder supplements, for example, are claimed to provide an energy boost and can also help to improve mental clarity. There are also a number of supplements that can help to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation, such as chamomile tea and magnesium supplements.
There are even many ways to get energy without taking caffeine.
Get enough quality sleep
Whether you’re a trucker or not, getting enough sleep is important. It’s also not enough to make sure you get enough sleep — you want to make sure you’re getting quality sleep.
If you want to improve your chances of getting good sleep, avoid eating heavy meals in the evening and avoid stimulants like coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks past a certain time in the afternoon. Sticking to a routine as much as possible can also train your body to get enough sleep.
Weighted blankets can help you relax as you fall asleep, and Smartwatches can help you track your sleep patterns. If you struggle to sleep through the night, it may be beneficial to ask a doctor about a sleep study.
Working in the trucking industry can be stressful. The hours are long, the roads can be tough, and sometimes it can get mind-numbingly boring. Finding time to relax can help you keep your mental state up while you’re on the road.
Simple deep breathing exercises and meditation can help you recenter yourself and ground yourself when you feel stressed or anxious. Exercise and stretching can help keep your body fit while also helping your mental health at the same time.
You can listen to music while you drive (or even in your downtime). You can also listen to podcasts and audiobooks, although it may be a bad idea if you get distracted easily while driving, so you may want to keep those activities for when you’re off-duty.
Stay in touch with loved ones
Being away from your loved ones can truly negatively affect your mental health. Bring sentimental items from home to remind you of the ones you love while you’re on the job. Stay in touch through text or phone calls (or even video calls). You might even enjoy sending postcards now and then.
Be aware of the signs of declining mental health
It’s important to be aware of what the warning signs are when it comes to declining mental health. Here are some of them:
Feeling nervous, anxious, or tense
Feeling a sense of dread
Losing interest in past hobbies and passions
Headaches, body aches, muscle tension
Declining mental health can sometimes sneak up on you. If you’re not feeling the best mentally, you may want to try relaxing and meditating to see if it helps. And, remember that there’s no shame in seeking help.
Truckers are at risk of mental health issues. They spend a lot of time in the truck, away from their families and homes. There are some ways to maintain mental health while driving such as listening to music, talking to friends on the phone or through social media, watching movies and TV shows, reading books/magazines, etc, as well as the tips above.
Some other tips include:
- Talk with a therapist or counsellor if you have any worries or concerns.
- Stay up to date with your medications and make sure they are correct for you.
- Exercise regularly to keep your body healthy and strong.
- Maintain a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables - these foods help keep you energised and focused.
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