Good Mental Health Keeps Truckers On the Road


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The most difficult aspect of trucking is not making deliveries on time to locations hundreds of miles apart. It’s not maneuvering 80,000 lbs of big rig through four-wheelers and various hazards. The most difficult aspect of truck driving is the mental toll.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and this is a topic that is relevant for all truck drivers. As drivers will tell you: Trucking is more than a career. Trucking is a lifestyle. Unfortunately, a big part of that lifestyle is isolation.

The Mental Health Challenges of Trucking

Trucking includes long hours alone on the road, away from family and friends. While companies have done more in recent years to attract drivers with more flexible home time, this core aspect of the job remains unchanged. If you’re going to be in the driver’s seat of a truck for long periods of time, this is time that cannot be spent at home.

This isolation is a well-paying and worthwhile trade-off for people with no children. Truck driving offers a degree of freedom that no 9-to-5 can compare. The salary is good, and if you choose, you can even live out of your truck to save on rent. But for those who prefer more home time or have a tendency to get lonely, the balance of trucking and living can be difficult.

In addition to the isolation, trucking can also interfere with other aspects of healthy living. Sleeping in a sleeper berth isn’t the same as getting a night’s rest in the comfort of a large bed. Eating a healthy diet is a challenge when dining at truck stops. A lack of exercise can contribute to mental health problems as well.

Tips to Stay Mentally Healthy

The good news is that there are ways to maintain a good mental health on the road. Here are a few tips:

1. Keep in Contact. Because isolation is a huge reason for truck driver turnover, make sure to keep in contact with your loved ones. While it seems like people make actual voice calls less and less, do make time for your family and friends. Don’t just text. Maybe even use video calls. Seeing and hearing another human being is good for your mental health.

2. Make Time to Sleep. Truck drivers often take pride in how many miles they can run in a short amount of time. Given that company drivers are paid in Cents Per Mile, that makes… sense. But don’t neglect your sleep. Try to bring a physical book and stay away from blue screen light from your phone before bed. Sleep has been proven to be a major factor for a positive mental health.

3. Diet and Exercise. While it can be challenging to fit exercise into your schedule, try to at least get 20-30 minutes of walking in. Studies show that staying active releases chemicals in the body that keep you happier. Eating healthy foods like vegetables and protein will make sure you aren’t lethargic throughout the day.

4. Mental Health Help. If you are having problems or struggling with your mental health beyond these tips, please get help. There are more resources than ever before for phone or online therapy. Just talk to someone. You may even be able to do a session while driving, if you expect to be on a straight highway for 30 minutes. Truck driving is one of the most mentally taxing professions, and there’s no shame in getting help to be healthier, happier, and plan for your future.