Most people wake up, go to work, go home, go to bed, wake up, and do it all over again. The days go by and the routine hardly changes. For a truck driver, the workday is anything but normal. For one thing, the location changes daily. On Tuesday you may go to sleep in New York, and by Thursday you are in Wisconsin. Deadlines are tight, meaning that there is not a lot of room for error. To say that driving truck is stressful would be an understatement.
When caught up in the stresses of the job and life in general, we sometimes forget how important it is to step back, unwind, and relax. There are many stress management and self-care options out there, and it’s time for you to make them a priority.
Fuel Your Body with Healthy Foods – With busy schedules and little space to prepare healthy meals, eating healthy on the road can be a challenge. Although it’s easy to load up on greasy fast food and high calorie snacks when you are putting on fuel, there are healthy option available at most places that you will stop. When grabbing a quick bite to eat, try to incorporate as many fruits and vegetables as you can. Swap out fried food for a grilled or broiled option. Aim to eat snacks that are high in protein and fiber and low in fat. Snacks like beef jerky, trail mix, popcorn, yogurt, fruits, and vegetables are tasty alternatives to chips, candy, and other fatty or sugar packed treats. These foods are not only important for physical health, but mental health as well.
Get an Adequate Amount of Sleep – Sleep is a key asset when it comes to good mental health. You’re working long, hard hours and a good night sleep is essential for making sure that you can work at an optimum level. Sleeping can often be tough while you are in your sleeper berth, but there are measures you can take to get the most of your sleep. One is to invest in a good pillow. If you sleep on your back, side, or stomach, there are specific types of pillows that can help you get a better night sleep. Having the wrong pillow can lead to headaches, neck pain, and arm numbness. Another step you can take is to block out noise and light with earplugs and eye masks or close the curtains on your truck. Every step you take to improve your sleep will help you feel better overall.
Exercise is Key – Sitting behind the steering wheel for extended periods of time leaves little time to hit the gym. Truckstop gyms are sometimes an option, but there are more practical ways to work out without even having to leave your truck. Resistance bands, kettlebells, and dumbbells can easily be stored in your truck and with YouTube, there are enough exercise videos to watch that will guarantee you never run out of ideas. Some exercises can even be done while you’re driving. An example of one that can be done while driving is the abdominal crunch. Squeeze your abs and hold them from one mile marker to the next. Any activity that you can do is beneficial, because while you exercise, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals produced by your body that help relieve stress and pain.
Find Humor – They weren’t lying when they said “laughter is the best medicine.” Studies show that laughter has a number of benefits. For one, it helps with your blood flow. When laughing, blood flow increases and that can help combat against heart attacks. Laughing also causes the release of some hormones and chemicals into our bodies, and that causes us to be happy! Call up an old friend, watch a funny movie, read the comic section from a newspaper… whatever measures you need to take in order to laugh a little – do it!
Stress relief is different for everyone and it is important to find what works for you. Although your stress won’t disappear all together, finding little tricks to help manage it will benefit your overall well being in the long run.