According to a recent New York Times article, truckers across the country feel like “throwaway people” who aren’t valued or even seen by the majority of the population. Truckers work absurdly long hours, often for too little payoff. They spend their time on the road getting cut off by dangerous, irate drivers of much smaller cars, and they suffer from health problems related to getting too little healthy food, too much junk food and too little exercise.
It’s no wonder, then, that many truckers suffer from poor mental health as well as poor physical health. Happy drivers are healthy drivers, and we know you care about living a long and happy life because of—not in spite of—your career. Below, we outline a few tips that can help you stay mentally healthy and upbeat while you travel.
1. Eat Healthily and Exercise Frequently
Activities that keep you physically healthier also keep you mentally healthier. As a truck driver, make eating healthy foods and exercising a top priority as frequently as possible. Before you leave home, stock your truck with supplies like granola bars, apples and carrots. Invest in a cooler or small refrigerator where you can store salads, fruits and other healthy but perishable items. Don’t indulge in gas station food.
Along with eating healthily and avoiding foods loaded with sugar, fat and salt, take frequent breaks during the day to stretch. Even pulling over at a rest stop for ten minutes to stretch your arms, legs, neck and back will rejuvenate you and keep your limbs flexible. Stretch at the start and end of the day, and try getting involved in a sport you can participate in anywhere, like walking or jogging.
2. Listen to Music, Podcasts and Messages from Friends
Driving is a solitary activity. While many drivers choose their career precisely for the solitude, the loneliness can quickly wear some people down.
Talking to family members obviously alleviates the loneliness, but many states prohibit drivers from talking on cell phones while they drive. Plus, even when talking on the phone is legal, it’s not a good idea for truck drivers to talk and drive. Even if you’re using a hands-off phone, your attention can still be split between the road and the person you’re talking to, which decreases safety and increases accident potential.
Instead, if you want a little human connection, scout out some podcasts to download and stream while driving. Podcasting has exploded in recent years, and with thousands and thousands available on iTunes, anyone can find a podcast they’ll enjoy. Whether you want a talk show about trucking tips or a narrative podcast on almost any subject, it’s easy to find an engrossing podcast that passes the time and helps you connect with the outside world.
If podcasts aren’t your thing, create playlists you can listen to while you drive—or, better yet, ask a loved one to create a playlist for you. You can also have family members and friends record conversations and messages to you and play those while you drive.
And if you have the budget for satellite radio, SiriusXM is an ideal way to listen to news, sports, weather, music and talk shows from coast to coast.
3. Practice Meditation
Driving is stressful. When you spend the majority of your time on the road, you see much more than your fair share of poor driving. And, as a trucker, you spend a lot of time surrounded by drivers who don’t know how to drive around trucks—or just don’t care.
When you spend hours getting cut off, it’s hard to unwind at the end of the day, knowing that you may need to get up at in a few hours and sit behind the wheel again. Stress can decrease your sleep quality, raise your blood pressure and contribute to a host of other health problems.
Meditation is a great way to reduce anxiety at the end of the day, restore your sense of calm, and sleep better. If you don’t have time to learn to meditate, you’re in luck—there are plenty of helpful, free podcasts geared towards beginners. Check out apps like:
- Stop, Breathe, and Think. This personalized app guides you through meditations depending on your emotions.
- Meditation Oasis. This app offers instructions for meditations, meditative music and basic guided meditations.
- Daily Meditation Podcast. Listen to this podcast for daily updates with new techniques and guided meditation sessions.
If you’ve never meditated before, you might have a hard time quieting your mind. But keep at it: meditation is a learned skill that gets better and better with practice.
4. See a Mental Health Provider
As a truck driver who hopes to live a long and healthy life, you need to take mental illnesses as seriously as physical illness. If you think you suffer from a chronic illness like anxiety, depression or PTSD, take the time to schedule an appointment with a doctor who can diagnose you and guide you towards the proper treatment.
Enjoy Life on the Road
Life as a trucker isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t have to contribute to poor mental health. Follow the tips above to make your life easier and happier.
The professional staff at Arrow Truck Sales is always available to help make your life easier by assisting you in finding the right used truck that meets your business needs.