Truck drivers spend the majority of their time on the road making deliveries. While solitude is welcome in some instances, it can take a toll on their psychological wellness. A study found that nearly 27% of the truck drivers under survey suffered from depression, 14.5% from anxiety, and 13% from other emotional problems.
Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, it is the perfect time to figure out ways to improve cognitive well-being. Here are the top six tips on maintaining mental health as a truck driver.
Tips Truck Drivers Can Use to Maintain Mental Health
Truck drivers face several work-related stressors, such as:
- Fatigue and lack of sleep
- Time pressures
- Road rage
Since truckers are away from the support networks of their family and friends for weeks on end, it is almost inevitable they will face psychiatric wellness issues. These are the best ways truck drivers can combat deteriorating mental health:
1. Eat healthily
Research shows that some foods are great for mental health, including:
- Lean proteins: These help balance serotonin levels for a natural way of controlling anxiety and depression. Examples include chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, and soybeans.
- Complex carbohydrates: Inadequate carbohydrates will increase serotonin levels, so take quinoa, beets, or sweet potatoes to keep stress at bay.
- Healthy fat: Foods like meat, fish, flaxseeds, and coconut oil provide the structural components for forming brain cells and influencing brain functions.
- Fruits: They contain various nutrients such as flavonoids, minerals, and vitamins, vital for reducing oxidative stress. A great example is an avocado.
Steer clear of processed snacks, candy, and soft drinks.
2. Get outside
Being in the cab for extended periods can feel claustrophobic after a while, which is detrimental to good mental health. Go outside often as that will help a driver relax and concentrate better.
3. Rest regularly
While it is not uncommon to find truckers driving a truck in shifts, some still do it alone. Going several hours without proper rest is not great since a study found a connection between fatigue and depression.
Pull into a motel to shower and sleep on a real bed. That will ensure a well-rested mind, keeping stress and other mental issues at bay.
4. Stay hydrated
Keep drinking plenty of fluids as dehydration drives up anxiety. Hydration ensures brain cells receive a better oxygen supply, which is vital for remaining alert. Even as little as a 1% loss in body weight through dehydration can weaken the truckers’ concentration capacity.
So drink the recommended amount of water in a day—11 glasses for women and 16 for men. Thankfully, it does not have to be all plain water, as tea, coffee, and drinks made from fruits or veggies are viable alternatives to keeping hydrated.
When waiting to load or offload a shipment, use that time to stretch and exercise. Drivers should exercise if they wish their brains to remain active and healthy. Make it a habit to take a short walk after parking to improve blood circulation and help clear the mind.
6. Travel companion
In the study mentioned in the opening paragraph, 27% of truck drivers complained about suffering from loneliness. Since loneliness can contribute to cognitive wellness issues, truck drivers should consider a travel companion. The travel companion need not even be human—a pet would do.
Final Word – Maintaining Truck Drivers’ Mental Health
Poor psychological well-being will affect the driver’s productivity and distract the driver to the point of causing an accident. Maintaining optimum cognitive wellness levels is vital in the trucking industry as a poor mental health record could cost a driver their certifications.