Posted October 12, 2020

How to Reduce Stress on the Road

By Grace Tino

Trucking is a notoriously unpredictable career. A typical shift for a trucker includes long hours, firm deadlines, unpredictable weather, traffic, bad drivers, and more. On top of it all, many truckers will spend days or even weeks at a time juggling these challenges without seeing their friends and family. While it may be instinctual to brush off feelings of stress to get the job done, it is a lot less healthy in the long run. On top of being connected to multiple health issues such as anxiety or high blood pressure, living under constant stress can even start to impede your job performance. Just a few simple changes to a trucker's routine can drastically improve his/her life on the road.

  1. Schedule times to communicate with loved ones. A 2017 study conducted by Transportation Journal found that one of the largest stressors truckers face is isolation. Though trucking is an isolated career by nature, requiring hours on the road alone in a cab, being far from family and friends can certainly take a toll on anyone. While juggling with weather, dispatchers, deadlines, and more, being away from a support system to get your spirits up can only add to stress. To cut off feelings of isolation, as well as combat stress, try scheduling times to speak with loved ones. Try to set regular times throughout your trips where you will chat with family either on the phone or even through video calls! It is relieving to share the struggles of your day and receive comfort from loved ones, plus it gives you something to look forward to!
  2. A healthy mind is connected to a healthy body. Remaining healthy on the road isn't necessarily easy, but it is absolutely doable. Exercise is an efficient way to reduce stress and scientifically improve your mood. There are plenty of ways to get some sort of exercise even while on route to your next stop. Pack some free weights, resistance bands, exercise mats, and sneakers, and you are good to go! Common exercises include going for walks and jogs at your stops, doing some weights and body-weight exercises in the parking lot on a mat, or even something less high impact like yoga. Even 10 to 20 minutes of exercise can make a significant impact on boosting your mood and lowering stress levels.
  3. Make your cab a comfortable environment. No matter what size it is, customizing your cab can alleviate a lot of stress from being inside for long hours. Previously, JobsInTrucks made some suggestions on how to customize your cab. Some simple ways to make it a homey environment that you can relax in includes buying extra pillows and back support cushions, curtains, bringing technology like TVs and games, and stocking up on healthy food and snacks. After a long day, reduce your stress by closing the curtains and reading a book, playing your favorite video game, or watching a favorite movie. Decompressing is important, and a comfy environment sets the right tone for it.
  4. NEVER skip on sleep! Truckers need to be at the top of their game all day on the road to respond to safety concerns, customers, dispatch and more. Take advantage of your off hours and get as much rest as you can. You will tackle challenges with more dexterity and less anxiety with a full night's rest!
  5. As mentioned before, spending hours per day alone in your cab is stressful. When you're working a tight deadline, sometimes it can feel like it is constantly looming over your head. Find hobbies to do on the road to keep your mind occupied. This can include finding great podcasts to listen to, trying out an audio book, or even crafting your own highway music playlist! Driving does not need to be boring- spending time in traffic is always better with something to listen to!
  6. Dogs are man's best friend for a reason. Having a companion animal on the road can reduce loneliness and ease stress while your support system is at home. Many companies are now pet friendly and encourage drivers to bring a companion on their hauls. Explore opportunities on JobsInTrucks with pet friendly companies!
  7. Plan ahead. Planning leaves less room for the unknown (and added stress, too!). Things you can check before heading out for the day include your emails/messages (from work or family/friends), weather forecasts, traffic predictions, and any updates on your haul. You will have less to worry about and less stress overall when you head out confident about your day.

Trucking has always been a challenging and stressful job, and with the pandemic this year, it has grown to be more stressful than ever! If you are a trucker feeling bogged down with stress at work, there are plenty of options for lowering your stress levels. While you can take as many precautions as possible and make changes, there will always be certain situations that are out of your control. The most important way to reduce stress boils down to mindfulness. Say you are stuck in unforeseen traffic, for example, due to an accident when you are nearly missing a deadline. Pause, take deep breaths, and rationally think about the situation. It is key to breathe and not panic to keep your stress levels down about situations outside of your control. Additionally, think about the great work you are doing! Truckers have received more praise and recognition than ever before for their hard work, dedication, and sacrifices. Companies continue to look for hard working drivers to tackle the stress and challenges of the road; if you're exploring new opportunities, JobsInTrucks has thousands that can fit your needs. Happy driving!