The mental health of truck drivers is an essential part of their everyday life. The competitive market and the nature of the industry have created a work culture where drivers work too much. As a result, they experience proper sleep deficiency which leads to fatigue. Loneliness on the road adds up to the list that can harm their mental health.
Excessive stress, dealing with chaotic traffic every day, long working hours, tough competition, different weather conditions, and improper food make truck drivers more susceptible to developing any kind of detrimental coping mechanism. It can harm both them and other traffic participants. Their families can suffer as well.
Is Mental Health of Truck Drivers Still a Stigma?
Earlier, there was a huge stigma around mental health. It was thought that admitting a problem is a sign of weakness, especially because the trucking industry is still very much male-dominated. Luckily, the stigma has disintegrated as more people talk about their mental conditions, and they are less seen as a weakness throughout society. Finally, there is a tendency of realizing mental health is not necessarily an illness. Instead, it denotes a person’s condition linked to their emotional and social well-being. If not addressed properly and promptly, mental health issues can develop from minor to severe.
Most Common Factors That Affect Mental Health
Even though truck drivers very often bear the image of being strong and tough and less susceptible to stress, the truth is that mental health issues are more prevalent in trucking.
The number of factors that affect someone’s mental health is infinite. However, the number one factor for truck drivers is isolation. Being away from your loved ones for an extended period of time can trigger bad thoughts. Little time to have social interaction has adverse effects on one’s mental health.
Further, the on-the-road experience can be traumatic. Truck drivers spend much time on the road and they witness accidents more often than others.
Improper food impacts mental health as well. Truck drivers most often have fast food. It’s nothing to be judged for because sometimes truckers do have a really bad day. Taking a reasonable amount of sugar or simple carbohydrates is no harm. The problem arises when unhealthy products become one’s daily routine. Our brain requires good fuel so that it can function properly. Good-quality nutrition means better quality of life. Check Out tips and tricks for healthy eating on the road.
Work pressure should not be neglected. The frustrating nature of the trucking job in terms of intense pressure to deliver on time with all the road and weather difficulties is very stressful.
All of the factors above are tightly connected to the changes in behavior which further can lead to various mental conditions.
Even though not discussed much, depression in trucking is widely prevalent. Too much time alone is the leading cause. Truck drivers need badly more quality time with their families. In addition, depression is brought on by sleep deprivation. Due to upside-down schedules and driving at night, truck drivers lack normal sleep cycles. If we add up that some truck drivers aren’t making as much money as expected, they start worrying more and more. Combined together, all of these factors harm truck drivers’ mental health.
Almost all face anxiety in some life phase. Truck drivers are more prone to anxiety symptoms than others. Chronic stress is the leading trigger of anxiety among truckers. Nervousness, worry, fear and unpleasant situations on the road contribute to the anxious behavior. People who suffer from anxiety very often have an increased heart rate and gastrointestinal problems followed by sweating and trembling. What is more, they often have the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety which makes their condition worse. That’s why addressing the issue properly is crucial for well-being.
Low energy and chronic fatigue in truck drivers are very common and very dangerous because they increase the risk for accidents. A highly demanding environment and low level of job control contribute to the majority of truckers experiencing fatigue. In addition, fatigue impairs the truck driver’s capacity to perform safely.
How To Protect Your Mental Health
The first step towards helping yourself is recognizing and admitting that you’re experiencing an issue. When you are aware that you’re dealing with any kind of problem, you can try searching for a solution.
You have the right to ask your employer for help and evaluate your options with a fleet manager. A travel companion might be a good starting point to combat road isolation. Staying in touch with family over the phone as much as possible or joining the trucking community and chatting with colleagues can also be helpful. Moreover, bring sentimental items from home such as photos, small decorations, or personal belongings of family members.
Keeping your mind active is important for boosting your memory and concentration which will prevent fatigue. Finding a way to entertain yourself might be a bit difficult because usual hobbies are not practical on the road. However, there are ways to make your time more enjoyable.
Lack of time is a great obstacle to learning a language, but truck drivers have plenty of it. There are numerous audio programs so you can learn every day a bit.
If you like being in front of the camera, this is a great way to entertain yourself. There are lots of possibilities. You have the freedom to vlog about any topic you like. You can share tips and tricks for truck drivers or vlog about things that have nothing to do with the trucking industry. It can be very creative and even profitable. Document your journey with photographs.
Taking pictures of the vivid sceneries can be a piece of art. Interesting views at rest stops can also be amusing. Your smartphone camera will be enough to capture a meaningful moment if you’re doing it as a hobby.
Last but not least, humor is a great way to take away stress. It releases endorphins that affect emotions and improves your mood. Incorporate humor into your life, listen to comedies while driving, and laugh. Make it your daily routine.
Nevertheless, if you notice more severe signs of harmed mental health, don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance. It won’t get any better if you don’t get help. Making an appointment with a psychotherapist is easy. If you can’t do it in person, there’s an option to do it virtually so you can discuss your problems wherever you are.