Stress is unavoidable. Many people experience stress in one way or another regardless of the field they work in, including the trucking industry.
For truck drivers, the nature of their job and the unpredictability can lead to heightened stress. You have to fight bad weather conditions, navigate around bad road drivers, and sometimes you have to deal with difficult people with coordinating the shipping and receiving aspect of the job. On top of that, you have to deal with unrealistic deadlines, too!
No matter how calm you are, there may still come a time where you’ll get frustrated during these difficult situations.
This is the reality of life in the trucking industry. Stress is already part of the job. Many truck drivers have lasted years in this industry despite the stress because they learned, along the way, how to manage it. Let us share with you some of the most useful ways to manage your stress as a truck driver and have an easy ride, or better yet, an enjoyable one!
Your diet directly impacts your mood
There are many ways that you create a more enjoyable ride for yourself as a truck driver. As a truck driver, it’s easier for you to eat greasy unhealthy food from fast food restaurants and roadside diners because these foods are highly available and cheap. Yes, you’re trying to save your time and eating in these locations is fast and easy, but it will definitely take a toll on your health.
As a truck driver, it is essential to have a healthy diet to be able to focus during your ride. As tempting as it may look to eat junk food along the way, food might be costly. A good idea to eat healthier is to get rid of unnecessary ingredients in your meals and replace fried sides with vegetables. Eating healthy food can also reduce your stress level, as some specific foods can help release hormones in your brain that will make you feel more relaxed and energetic.
Another tip for road drivers is to always have with you some fruits and healthy snacks with you, such as nuts, to stay focused. You also shouldn’t be driving on an empty stomach! Avoid drinking soft drinks, too, as they have no nutritional benefits and can cause some health problems if consumed regularly.
Get enough sleep
You’re probably thinking that you can survive as an OTR driver by sleeping only a few hours the night before a long drive. Well, think twice! This is one of the most important factors to avoid stress. All of us should have a fixed sleep schedule and get seven to eight hours on a regular basis to maintain a healthy emotional and mental state.
Lack of sleep can have major negative effects on your health – from your digestive system to your respiratory system – and that's something you want to avoid, especially when you’re on the road all day long. Plus, let's not forget the risk of accidents happening along the way simply because you didn't have some quality sleep and your body couldn't take it anymore. Always remember that whenever you’re driving, all your senses must be awake and your reflexes must be fast.
Exercise regularly and make it a habit
When we say exercise, it doesn’t mean that you have to spend an hour a day exercising. Studies show a 15-20 minute exercise routine each day is enough to boost your energy and help you stay focused.
You’re probably thinking that you don't have the time to exercise while on the road. Well, that can’t be true, as a 15-minute walk around a truck stop could do the job. You can even download some mobile apps that are dedicated to exercising and can give you some simple exercise moves to do on daily basis for a short time.
One other simple exercise that you can do to help relieve stress is to breathe. Breathing exercises are very helpful while on the road, as they can calm you down when you’re stuck in traffic or when you’re facing a stressful situation.
Because your job as a truck driver involves a lot of sitting in the same position for long periods of time, make it a habit to take regular breaks and do some stretching to keep your blood flowing.
Be prepared with a stress-busting toolkit
Being a truck driver means that you’re alone in your truck and you have no one to rely on most of the time when it comes to technical issues. So, it’s important that you know what you should do in case your truck is not functioning well.
As much as it is important to always be equipped with technical knowledge, it is as important to be equipped with simple stress-relieving tools. Having a stress ball, for example, can help lower your stress level and keep you awake and focused. Consider including a cooling towel, too, in your “stress-reliever” toolkit, which is just a regular towel, but moisturized. This towel will help keep you cool, especially during the summer.
Another tip to help you be equipped and reduce your stress level is to know your destination beforehand. Knowing exactly where to go will prevent you from wasting your time and energy, which you will greatly need to stay focused and get to your destination on time.
Live in the moment and enjoy the ride
Lastly, enjoy your ride! How? It’s simple. Just listen to your favorite music or a podcast along the way. Listening to your favorite song will keep you in a good mood and will help you relieve piled up stress.
If you’re not into music, try to listen to a podcast to keep you motivated. There are lots of podcasts out there where you can learn a lot and will make you realize many things about life.
If you’re not in the mood for some serious reasons, though, try to look for a podcast that contains funny jokes or stories to lift your mood. This may not be as serious as motivational podcasts, but it can still help you maintain a positive attitude while driving because you’ll be laughing. Or, you can even simply recall some funny situations that happened in your life which can make you smile.