Driving trucks is a job with a very specific set of challenges. Additionally, truck driving in the New York area is particularly difficult. Drivers can sometimes feel exhausted or overwhelmed. Undoubtedly, the responsibilities alone can be daunting.
Truck drivers are not only responsible for safely navigating a massive vehicle. Additionally, they’re responsible for keeping their cargo safe, avoiding situations like jackknife skids and making sure shipments arrive on time. Common problems like traffic congestion, unsafe weather conditions and roadwork can make a truck driver’s job exceedingly difficult. Moreover, these obstacles can often dramatically increase a driver’s stress levels.
Believe it or not: you can be experiencing high levels of stress and not be aware of it. According to WebMD, physical symptoms of stress include:
- Low energy
- Aches, pains and tense muscles
- Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
- Frequent colds or infections
- Loss of sexual desire/impotence
- Nervousness and shaking, ringing in ears, cold or sweaty hands/feet
- Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
- Clenched jaw/grinding teeth
Fortunately, if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, there are proven ways to handle them. Even while you’re out on the road, you can use these methods to bring your stress levels down. With any profession, it’s vital to keep yourself healthy. However, with trucking, it’s important for your safety as well as others on the road to keep yourself in good health.
Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutrition!
Let’s start with the simplest one. Also, this one might be the most important. Every driver knows how easy it is to stop at a fast food restaurant or grab a quick bag of chips from a rest stop or gas station. Also, the time restrictions alone can make eating healthier difficult.
Health experts agree that the best way to combat stress is with a balanced diet. And while it may seem totally counterintuitive to you, you should prioritize eating fruits and vegetables more often. Basically, these are the kinds of common food items that can have a fantastic effect on your high stress levels.
The typical items you might pick up for convenience on the road – like cookies, candy and soft drinks have a lot of added sugar. The National Cancer Institute estimates that male adults consume an average of 24 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends drinking plenty of water, balancing meals, powering up with protein and energizing with grains.
Essentially, if all of that nutritional advice seems overwhelming, keep it simple. When in doubt: fruits and vegetables. If you can’t find them on the road, bring them from home! Replacing the processed rest stop food with fruit and vegetables can have a magnificent effect on your stress.
Set Aside Enough Time for Sleep
Any driver knows just how critical it is to stay awake on the road. And if you’re not getting enough sleep, it can be a much bigger problem than high stress levels. Depriving yourself of sleep can endanger you and your fellow drivers on the road.
Whether you are traveling long distance or the final mile, being wide awake on your route is very important. Therefore, getting enough sleep will help protect you and limit your stress. The National Sleep Foundation recommends at least 7-9 hours of sleep a day. And if you’re having trouble sleeping, they have a specific set of practices that can be an enormous help to you:
- Avoid heavy meals, alcohol and cigarettes in the evening
- Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual
- Avoid naps if you can’t sleep at night
- Exercise daily, as vigorous as possible
- Keep your bedroom cool and make sure your sleep environment has the necessary conditions to keep you relaxed
- Try to keep to a regular sleep routine
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows, don’t be afraid to invest in a superior bed
- If you’re still unable to sleep, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss it
Essentially, sleep is equally as important as food in keeping your stress manageable. And if you’re having trouble sleeping, give these tactics a shot and see if they can help you.
TURN OFF YOUR PHONE!
This might seem like a very general statement. What do we mean by “turn off your phone?” Basically, this means you should limit your electronics or technology at bedtime. Naturally, we can often spend an exorbitant amount of time on our smartphones. At times hours can go by without us noticing. Essentially, this kind of oversight can have a disorienting effect on our minds.
Excessive use of our phone or tablets can have some pretty negative effects on our stress. And when it comes to technology, it’s important to be mindful of how much time you spend gazing at a screen. So if you find yourself absorbed in social media or Angry Birds, make sure to take regular breaks at least every thirty minutes. Stretch or walk around a bit, or focus on something else.
Most professionals recommend turning off your phone or tablet at least an hour before sleep. Replace your phone with a book, magazine or audiobook. Additionally, many studies have found that the light projected by smartphones inhibits our ability to sleep restfully. Surprisingly, even television screens can disrupt our sleep.
Keeping your electronic screen time under control will have a surprising effect on your ability to rest.
At Iron Horse Transport, more than anything we want our drivers to be safe and healthy. Naturally, we understand the challenges involved in truck driving and just how stressful it can be.
Basically, if you apply these methods, they can lower your stress levels and ultimately keep you healthy. In short: what do you have to lose?