8 Ways to Beat Stress While on the Road
Jan 01, 2015
1. Exercise Whenever Possible
As a truck driver you probably don’t have an hour to spend in the gym every day, but that’s no excuse to skip exercise. Even the smallest work-outs can have positive effects on your mind and mood. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America website says, “Psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout. Although the effects may be temporary, they demonstrate that a brisk walk or other simple activity can deliver several hours of relief, similar to taking an aspirin for a headache.” You can help beat stress by utilizing your breaks, meals and trailer wash times as opportunities to sneak in some exercise.
2. Eat Healthier Foods
Every driver knows the quality of fuel you put in your tank matters to the performance of your tractor. But do you ever stop to think about how the quality of food you put in your stomach can improve the performance of your mind and mood? There are many healthy snack foods that have the nutrient power to help you feel calmer and less stressed. These include berries, cashews and walnuts, dark chocolate, oranges and oatmeal. When choosing meals consider adding asparagus and garlic to the dinner plate, and maybe even washing it down with some green tea (who are we kidding, truckers don’t drink tea right?). All of these examples are foods that are good for you and can help make you feel more sharp in mind and peaceful in mood.
3. Expect the Best, not the Worst
The attitude you carry into a situation has a very big impact on the way the situation goes and how you experience it. If you go into a situation expecting the worst (“my dispatcher has it in for me,” “this load stinks,” “I hate dealing with those people”) you are very likely to experience the very reality you are expecting and projecting. Instead of being an Eeyore and walking around under your very own dark rain cloud, try taking a more positive approach. Be fully dressed each day with a smile on your face and an attitude that projects positivity. Try it for a week and see how much less stress you feel and how much more smoothly your interactions with others will go.
4. Be Prepared for the Worst
While you always want to expect the best, being prepared for the worst goes a long way towards beating stress while on the road. Being prepared for the worst means having jumper cables, tools and other things you might need to solve common problems. It means having enough windshield wiper fluid, some extra gloves, a change of clothes, extra batteries and healthy snacks in the truck when you don’t have time to stop and eat. You should also make sure you include enough margin in your schedule for loading/unloading delays, tank washes and road delays like accidents and construction zones. All of these things are little examples of ways you can be prepared for the worst before it stresses you out.
5. Phone a Friend
Remember the game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? In the show contestants had the option to phone a friend and get help with a question they were struggling to answer. Many times the stress drivers experience while on the road comes from unanswered questions. “Where do I go?” “How do I get there?” “Why isn’t this piece of equipment working?” “What is that noise coming from the engine of my truck?” A great way to reduce this stress is to phone a trucking friend. Asking another driver for help or insight will often be enough to get you through whatever situation you’re dealing with. Remember, for almost every load you haul, and for almost every location you’re going to, someone has probably been through it before.
6. Get Enough Rest
Plain and simple, sleep matters. Tired people are cranky, stressed out, hard to deal with people. They are also more unhealthy people. "Sleep can definitely reduce levels of stress, and with that people can have better control of their blood pressure. It’s also believed that sleep affects cholesterol levels, which plays a significant role in heart disease." While life on the road doesn’t make grabbing extra shut-eye easy, there are some ways you can stay rested. Maybe it means napping while you’re waiting for your delivery appointment. Maybe it means have a little plug-in fan to block out background noise at truck stops. Maybe it means avoiding caffeinated drinks towards the end of the day. Find whatever works for you to catch those important zzzz’s and get some rest!
7. Engage Your Brain during Downtime
Let’s be honest, being a trucker means sometimes you have downtime to deal with. Delays are just a part of the business, and when they happen it is easy to let your mind and mood be negatively affected by them. One way to beat the boredom is to engage your brain by learning something new. You can do this by reading a book, visiting a local museum, playing Sudoku, doing crossword puzzles, or even talking a class online. Instead of getting frustrated by your circumstances, think of it as a chance to grow, and then get out there and maximize the opportunity.
8. Give People the Benefit of the Doubt and Follow the “Golden Rule”
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of people are not ‘out to get’ anyone else. In fact, most people have more than enough of their own problems every day to worry about creating problems for others. In those most stressful moments, simply giving people the benefit of the doubt and treating them the way you would like to be treated can go a long way towards resolving the situation in a positive way. Getting upset, throwing blame around, calling names and thinking negatively about people only gets you more worked up and stressed out. On the other hand, remaining calm and giving people the benefit of the doubt, will help diffuse the situation and get you going on your way more quickly and calmly.