Are you a commercial truck driver feeling stressed? Do you want to learn more about the signs and causes of stress? Are you ready to learn more about how to manage your stress on the job? You’ve come to the right place!
Welcome to the BW Mitchum Trucking blog! We’re bringing you the latest information on topics that matter to commercial truck drivers. In this blog, we will be talking about tips that you can use to manage stress while driving. But first, we’d like to introduce ourselves!
BW Mitchum has been a leader in customized intermodal and domestic transportation, while still maintaining the core principles you expect from a 3rd generation family business. We pride ourselves on our reliable and personalized customer service, and provide whatever logistical support customers may need in addition to transportation, including warehousing, trans loading, and brokerage services. We are committed to continuing to provide the highest-quality transport services as we continue to grow.
Before we get started, let’s talk about the common signs of elevated stress.
Signs of stress
The signs of stress can vary from person to person. However, it is helpful to know the most common signs so that you can identify stress in your own life.
These are a few of the most common signs of elevated stress:
- Difficulty breathing
- Trouble sleeping
- High blood pressure
- Panic attacks
- Low energy
- Frequent infections and colds
- Nausea, constipation, and diarrhea
- Mood swings
- Feeling overwhelmed
Now that you know the signs to watch out for, let’s talk about what causes stress!
What causes stress for truck drivers?
Each person’s stress has unique causes. Some drivers may find that their stress is caused by very specific circumstances in their personal lives. Others may feel stressed due to job-related concerns. Whatever it may be, identifying the cause of your stress will help you find the best strategies to manage your stress! Let’s talk about a few of the most common causes of stress in truck drivers.
Truck drivers spend a lot of time on the road, and all of that time is spent in isolation. It’s a part of the job, but it can become a source of stress over time. When you spend too much time alone, your stress is bound to increase.
Lack of Sleep
Driving schedules can lead to sleeping habits that are less than ideal. Overnight drivers are especially susceptible to insomnia. Less sleep means more stress across the board. This is an especially important stressor to pay attention to and identify, because lack of sleep can quickly become a significant safety issue.
Lack of Acknowledgment
Because so much of the job is spent working independently, many drivers can feel that their hard work goes unnoticed. Feeling unappreciated can lead to increased stress.
If a driver is spending too much time worrying that they may not meet delivery deadlines, the anxiety can take a toll. Similarly, if a driver’s weekly or daily schedule isn’t consistent, it can lead to an increase in stress throughout every aspect of the job.
Driving in traffic can be stressful even for someone driving 20 minutes to work every day. But for truck drivers, traffic can become a much larger source of stress. Navigating in high-traffic areas can be especially stressful.
Driving a large commercial vehicle is stress-inducing on its own, but when the weather gets bad, driving can become very difficult. Many drivers experience added stress when they are driving in inclement weather.
Are you experiencing any of these stressors? Let’s talk about how you can address them!
How can truck drivers reduce and manage stress?
Maintain healthy eating habits
Healthy eating habits make a big difference in overall stress. When you’re eating well, you have more energy. Healthy eating also boosts your immune system. You will feel less stressed when your body has the fuel it needs to keep you healthy and strong!
Get plenty of sleep
Lack of sleep can be detrimental to your stress level. Take the time to create a sleep schedule that ensures you are getting enough sleep every night. Your body will thank you!
Your thought patterns can make a big impact on your mental health! If you often find yourself falling into negative thoughts, try confronting those thoughts and actively responding to them with positive alternatives.
Spend time prepping for each trip
The more prepared you are, the less stressed you will be when things don’t go according to plan. If running behind on a delivery is a major stress for you, give yourself as much extra driving time as possible, and plan ahead for what you will do if you get behind schedule. If feeling like you are underprepared to handle mechanical issues creates stress for you, spend time preparing an emergency plan and putting together the resources you need when you do experience a vehicle issue.
Focus on breathing
Breathing exercises are a physical exercise that can help you calm your mind and body when you are experiencing high levels of stress. Check out this article to learn a few breathing exercises that you can use!
Do you drink plenty of water throughout the day while you are driving? Hydration is an important part of managing your stress. If you are frequently stressed while driving, try drinking more water. You can also add an electrolyte mix into some of your water to help your body hydrate!
Commercial drivers often have trouble staying active because the job requires so much sitting. And when schedules get especially hectic, it becomes even more difficult to incorporate exercise into your day. Find ways to incorporate movement into your day, even if it is as simple as taking a short walk around a gas station when you stop during your drive. This can also help improve your focus, and prevent you from getting too sleepy while driving.
Connect with other drivers
If isolation is your main source of stress while driving, having a strong connection with others in your industry can make a big difference. Connecting with other drivers allow you to have conversations with someone who understands the specific stresses and frustrations of driving commercial vehicles. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask your supervisor or another leader in your industry for their help creating connections with other drivers.
Keep in touch with family and friends while on the road
In the same vein as connection with other drivers, staying in communication with family and friends is an important part of managing stress. It may be as simple as taking a few minutes during your stops to text or call your spouse or a friend. Just be sure that you are checking in with your loved ones!
Listen to music
Do you enjoy listening to music? If so, music may be a great way for you to manage your stress! Whether you choose to listen to your favorite genre of music, or to soothing classical music, find what works for you. If you’re not big on listening to music, maybe a podcast would be a better fit for you. Want to listen to a trucking-specific podcast? Check out the top podcasts in your industry here!
Taking the time to stretch your muscles will make your whole body feel more relaxed. Make sure that you take a minute or two to stretch every time you get out of your vehicle.
Cut out nicotine products
If you consume nicotine, you likely feel that it helps you relieve stress. However, the research shows that nicotine actually increases your stress levels. If you’re experiencing stress on a regular basis, consider quitting cigarettes and other nicotine products. You can read more about how nicotine affects stress here.
Communicate with company leadership
If you’re feeling on-the-job stress, it’s vital that you communicate with your company’s leadership. Express how you’re feeling, the major causes of your stress, and what they can do to better support you and reduce your stress.
So how are you feeling?
We hope that these tips will help you manage your stress while driving. Stay tuned for our next blog discussing how to eat healthy as a commercial truck driver!
If you are currently seeking new opportunities in the commercial trucking industry, we are always interested in adding new talent to our team! Visit our Opportunities page to learn more about our requirements and apply to one of our open positions.