A Commercial Driver’s Health is Important
Despite our best efforts, stress will always be part of our lives. This is especially true for a commercial driver. The stress seems to go away at different times and then return when you would rather it remain hidden, but this seems to be part of life, whether we like it or not. We always need to do our best to control stress based on our abilities, as this will help improve our physical and mental health immensely, especially while driving.
I’m So Stressed Out!
There seem to be two types of stress that we generally face: good stress and bad stress. The good stress seems to have an emotional reward after it has concluded. This means that you have some control over it in the long term. This would include deadlines, workloads, and assignments. The unfortunate part is that the bad stress is what you have no control over. Examples would be weather and other road users.
There is very little emotional reward for having bad stress. Part of dealing with that type of stress is learning how to accept it and adjust our lifestyle. Learning to deal with stress on the job, especially that of a commercial driver, begins with identifying where that stress originated. Many commercial drivers will suffer some form of stress because of any of the following reasons:
- Constant worrying about a specific situation
- Changes in your overall life
- Reduced work available
- Uncertain times in your life
- Feeling overwhelmed with any additional responsibilities given to you
- Being under additional pressure
Simple Ways to Relieve Stress
Now that we know where this stress has come from, what can we do to reduce the feelings of that stress? Which of these do you have at least some control over? It’s time to decide how you would help to solve the issues. Solving these stressful issues may be a long-term plan, and it may take you in a direction you may not be used to or never have gone before. Going in that new direction can reduce stress, and it’s the right move.
Stress Effects on the Body
The stress we feel can hurt our mental health, but it can also hurt our physical health, including our heart. This type of stress can increase blood cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure, to name a few things. These are all good reasons why it is important to have an action plan to control the stress in our daily lives. Here are a few ideas to help reduce stress and help to improve your mental and physical health.
Start by keeping a journal for one or two weeks to track which situations create the most stress for you and how you respond to each situation. Facing these stresses is a big step in reducing or eliminating them. If any of these stresses can be reduced or eliminated since they are brought on by yourself, that could be a good way to get started. It’s also a good idea to take some time to recharge your batteries by switching off your normal work routine. Trying some relaxation techniques such as light exercise and deep breathing techniques can often help, as can doing personal hobbies or activities unrelated to the cause of this stress.
Learning to relax outside work is a good step toward a healthier and stress-free lifestyle. Stay organized with your daily activities. If you are not normally organized, especially when you feel overwhelmed, ask for assistance from someone who can help you stay organized. Whether it’s a close friend, relative, or co-worker, this will give you the feeling of being in control of your responsibilities.
Connect with others
Speaking with your immediate supervisor or fleet manager is also a good way to help get things out in the open if much of the stress is work-related and has been bottled up inside you. Remember to remain calm while speaking with them. Keeping the stress bottled up inside is no way to control it and remove it. It can worsen quickly if you tend to handle it this way.
The purpose of a conversation like this isn’t about listing all your work-related complaints. It’s more about coming up with an effective plan for managing the work-related stresses you’ve identified that are affecting you so you can improve your job performance and overall health. Sometimes a short-term solution can help you get back on track before returning to normal duties and responsibilities.
Frequent Breaks for Long Distance Driving
If you’re traveling long-haul, schedule areas where you can take a break, get out, and stretch. Even a five- or ten-minute break can do wonders for your physical and mental health. A few stretches can also help to get the blood flowing again and relax the body and mind.
Patience Is Key to Driving Safely
Patience is also a big part of controlling stress. Remember that you have a job behind the wheel: to get to your destination as soon as possible and safely. So does everyone else on the road. Although you’ll encounter multiple drivers who seem to make life a little more stressful, take it all in stride. Getting frustrated and angry with their actions adds to your stress.
Instead of getting all frustrated or stressed by the actions of those other drivers, let those drivers pass you, or you pass them. Please stay away from their risky driving tactics as much as possible so you can continue to do what you need to do. They may not have the skills to travel safely, so doing your best to avoid them can help you continue safely and remove the added stress their actions may cause you.
Remember that you can’t always avoid all of the stress that the job as a commercial driver may bring you. Still, with a committed lifestyle change, patience, and determination, you can take multiple steps to improve your overall mental and physical health as you deal with this stress, good or bad.