Whether you drive a truck or have ever thought about it, we’ve all heard the phrase – “keep your eyes on the road.”
But what about when your mind is on the road? Specifically, how does a career behind the wheel of a commercial truck impact a person’s mental health?
While trucking is a rewarding job, it’s a demanding task. It brings together a number of unique conditions that can take a toll on a driver’s health, in particular their mind, if left unchecked.
What’s the secret to protecting your mental health as a truck driver?
What Makes Life on the Road Hard?
If you’ve ever operated a piece of heavy machinery or even driven a long distance in a passenger car, you know it takes concentration.
Like the body, the mind can only take so much strain before performance suffers.
The mental toll of truck driving is compounded by the stress of factors like traffic, weather, and driving in unfamiliar areas, which can cause truck drivers anxiety. There are also conditions like highway hypnosis that can impact drivers who’ve been on the road for a long time.
Perhaps the biggest strain of all is being away from those you love, or being completely alone for most of your working day. It’s this factor that can contribute highly to truck driver depression.
Truck drivers with good mental health get more joy out of their occupation. They’re also typically safer drivers, thanks to their increased focus and boosted mood. This is why the most responsible freight companies take an interest in their truck drivers’ mental health.
How Truck Drivers Can Keep Their Mind Healthy
Truckers know all about keeping their rig tested and ready for consistent work without overloading it. Our minds need to be engaged and looked after in the same way.
For in-motion engagement, we put together an entire collection of podcasts and audiobooks. You can ride along to the sounds and audio illustrations of science fiction, crime dramas, sports, and more.
When you’re parked, there are many activities to choose from. Reading, movies, and games can all keep your mind focused, engaged, and healthy. Meditation also helps to remove brain fog. To fight loneliness as a truck driver, contact your loved ones regularly, or better yet, bring one with you. Drivers can share their cabs with spouses, siblings, and sometimes even pets.
Be Mindful of Your Environment
As a truck driver, you’re trained to watch the road, other cars, the time, your rig, and of course, your state of mind.
But what about your immediate environment?
As a truck driver, your rig is basically your office. If it’s cluttered and disorganized, chances are your mind will be too. A tidy work environment also makes it easier to find what you need, further aiding in mental clarity.
You’ll want a comfortable bed as well – this can help you sleep better, which is important as truck driver insomnia is a common and dangerous condition.
Finally, throw in some personal items and pictures from home – it could help you feel a little more connected to life outside the cab.
Maintain a Healthy Routine
Like the multi-point inspection of your truck, your routine should be a list you run down consistently. This helps improve truck driver mental health by adding structure to the unorthodox work environment.
Try to sleep and wake at the same time as consistently as your schedule allows. If your schedule of work and rest never seems to be predictable, try slipping in a predictable hobby or ritual.
For example, once a day you could turn to your chosen hobby. You could also journal about your latest time on the road, or perhaps even blog or vlog it to share with others.
The Most Overlooked Aspect of Mental Health
Earlier we compared the brain and body, and this leads us to one important and often overlooked fact of the mental health conversation.
The mind and the body are one.
The way you eat and take care of your health can help reduce the chance of truck driver depression, anxiety, and more. Here are a few simple tips you can use to stay fit and well on the road.
Eat Healthy and Avoid Relying Too Much on Takeout
Though it seems like their always-on-the-go lifestyle makes takeout the top choice for truck drivers, it isn’t always the healthiest.
Add in the fact that healthy menu options can be hard to find in some locations and can get pricey multiple times a day, and it’s often better to just cook your own food and shop smart for ingredients.
There are plenty of great recipes online detailing the ingredients and equipment you’ll need. Many meals can be made with simple hardware like a slow cooker, or if you’re not a cook, the microwave offers options too.
Keep Up Your Appearance
Just because you’re not in front of the boardroom or the public every day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep up your appearance. A regular routine shows you take pride in you – and that’s massive for improving truck driver mental health.
Taking good care of your hair, nails, and skin will make you look and feel better. The same is true of wearing clean, comfortable clothes on your journey.
Get Exercise on a Regular Basis
Perhaps the best way to improve your appearance and boost your mental health is to exercise.
While truck driver mental health and physical health often suffer because of the sedentary environment, it’s possible to get a workout in as a trucker.
Biking or even walking around an area is perfect. There are also many workouts you can do with equipment you can carry around in your cab. Regular exercise keeps your body fit and your mind sharp.
Pick a Trucking Company That Prioritizes Worker Wellbeing
There’s no better way for a trucker to feel comfortable on the road than to have the support of a caring company behind them.
Here at Hermes, we know that drivers are people, and we provide everything we can to empower their journey, career, and mental health.
Hermes is always looking for new truck drivers. If you’re interested in working for a company that prioritizes truck driver mental health with flexible home time, quality trucks, and plenty of other great perks, reach out today to apply.