There is no doubt that there is a lot of pressure when truck drivers are on the road. The pressure to meet tight deadlines, stay alert and stay safe on the road. From the outside, it may look like it is an easy job that allows a driver to have freedom on the road while making money but it is not always the case. Truck drivers need a break, it is good for their mental health.
Mental health is a major concern for trucker drivers that is not always talked about enough. Long hours alone on the road, without a lot of physical movement or conversation can take a toll on a driver’s mental health. Burnout, which is described as energy depletion or exhaustion with increased feelings of negativism or loneliness and reduced professional efficacy, has a higher chance of affecting drivers and often goes unnoticed or is ignored. There are a number of steps that can be taken to avoid burnout, including making sure drivers get home on a regular basis. Another important step, is for the driver to pay attention to their thoughts and feelings as well as the company checking in with drivers regularly to see if they are managing on the road.
Everyday drivers are dealing with issues beyond their control such as road construction, weather, the unpredictability of other drivers on the road and lack of sleep due to long days. There is a lot of stress on the road and with lack of sleep it is harder to deal with stress in a healthy way. When drivers are on the road they should consider taking actions that they can control to support their mental and physical well-being:
• Create a driving schedule that includes short breaks in order to get fresh air and physical movement
• Plan ahead with snacks/meals that will fuel your body and mind and help to support your mental and physical health
• Avoid using drugs and alcohol to deal with stress
• Use technology to connect with family and/or mental health professionals
With all the stress truck driving brings, it is important to get a break. A real break, not just the hours that are required for a reset that are often spent in the truck. That is not a real break. Plan your vacation days far in advance so that you, your family and your company are prepared for it. It will give you something to look forward to while you are on the road. Studies show that at least a 5-day break is critical to supporting mental health, increasing productivity and avoiding burnout.