Demands of trucking can leave workers vulnerable to mental health issues. Due to the demands of their job, they often have trouble accessing care. Here’s what we can do to help.
It’s estimated that 75% of those in trucking feel their work is too stressful. Long hours, time away from home, inadequate rest and nutritious food can take a toll on the body and mind.
Professional truck drivers work under pressure with long driving shifts. Their mental health can often face distress frequently. Common stressors for drivers include:
- Social isolation
- Job strain
Access to healthcare and industry-sponsored programs can be limited. But, we can improve the well-being of truckers by educating them with resources, online support, and telehealth assessment to improve their health and safety on the roads.
It is time we treat mental health the way we treat physical to improve conditions for drivers. After all, about 500,000 Canadians on any given week are unable to work due to mental illness.
Here are seven suggestions that drivers can do to improve their mental health while on the road.
Tips For Truckers To Maintain Physical and Mental Health
1. Pay attention to what you put in your body
Eating nutrient-dense meals when possible will help fuel your body and mind while on the road. Chicken, turkey, lean cuts of meat, eggs, beans and nuts are a few of the many protein-rich foods to try. Pack snacks with low sugar and saturated fats. Stock up on dried fruits, protein shakes or bars, and Greek yogurt with granola.
2. Stay hydrated
Drinking water helps retain body temperature, supply oxygen to your brain, and keeps joints lubricated. When you become dehydrated you lose electrolytes which leads to fatigue, headaches, low blood pressure, and sleepiness.
3. Exercise regularly
Trucking is hard work and it requires you to maintain the same posture all day. This can lead to tight muscles and stiff joints. When you are taking a break, try going for a walk, or stock up on small workout equipment for your truck. Take a look at this driver-invented portable workout bench.
4. Bring a companion
Long hours can lead to loneliness. When possible, meet new people when you stop along your route. Travel with a pet, who can also be a great conversation starter at rest areas. If you have a friend or significant other who’s onboard for the trip, let them keep you company.
5. Keep your mind active
Break out the tunes, podcasts, and audiobooks. You can listen to classics or expand your knowledge with a new topic. Call your family and friends while on the road, daily.
6. Freshen up
Take time to stay well-groomed and showered. Being able to refresh and wear clean clothes will help you feel comfortable.
7. Consider meditation or breathwork
If you notice yourself getting overwhelmed, take a few moments to breathe deeply. It can help soothe your mind and help you feel grounded.
Trucking Talks Mental Health
TruckingHR Canada hosted a symposium on mental health in the workplace. Watch the video series to learn about best practices and practical tools to address mental health in the workplace and industry.
Rest And Recover, On And Off The Road
Trucking doesn’t need to burn you out mentally and physically. Use these tips provided to help maintain your mental state while driving. When you have downtime, be sure to take your hands off the wheel and connect with your loved ones.
If you ever need support, find a local mental health provider, and speak to your employer about benefits.