Driving a commercial vehicle involves high levels of risk. If you get involved in a road accident such as a collision, it can cause devastating damage not just to your truck or trailer but also to other vehicles. That is why proper mental health is important if you have to be a hotshot trucker.
Mental issues among truck drivers
Many truck drivers including hotshot truckers spend long hours alone along monotonous routes. It is no surprise that they suffer from loneliness and other emotional and mental issues.
In a study participated in by 316 drivers and published in the US National Library of Medicine, it showed the different mental health issues affecting the drivers. These issues are:
- Loneliness – 27.9%
- Depression – 26.9%
- Chronic sleep disturbances – 20.6%
- Anxiety – 14.5%
- Other emotional problems – 13%
All of the above mentioned conditions can affect a driver’s focus, judgment and decision making. Unfortunately, many of these truck drivers continue to drive without properly treating their mental condition. Even more dangerous is the fact that there are also drivers who try to self-medicate using alcohol and illegal substances, making their condition worse. It is like an accident waiting to happen.
10 Practical Hotshot Tips for Good Mental Health
1. Consider getting a travel companion.
For long trips, consider the possibility of getting a travel companion to help beat the loneliness that’s common when truck drivers are alone and feeling isolated. It can be someone who will work as your co-pilot, your pet, or someone who could simply accompany you and keep your spirits up.
2. Develop and maintain a positive routine.
A positive daily routine will not only help you get things done but it will also motivate you to move forward and achieve your daily goal. A routine will also guide you on what to do next from the moment you wake up to when you rest in the evening.
3. Maintain a strong support system at home.
It’s also a good idea to stay in touch with your family or friends during long hauls to avoid the feeling of isolation. Whenever possible, set up a time to talk to them as it will help you feel supported and grounded.
4. Develop a healthy lifestyle.
There is no excuse for not having a healthy lifestyle even when you are on the road. You could do short exercises daily, and make sure to eat healthy food to boost your overall well being. Also, don’t take rest and sleep for granted as they are necessary for your mental health.
5. Keep your mind active.
Consider the idea of putting your driving time to good use by learning new things. This is possible with modern resources such as podcasts and audiobooks.
6. Listen to music.
Music is known to help combat loneliness, sadness and depression. Make sure to take along some of your favorite music to listen on your trips.
7. Treat yourself once in a while.
Treat yourself to a hotel room occasionally for a well-deserved break. You’ll not only benefit from the good night’s rest in a comfortable bed but it will allow you to feel refreshed physically and mentally.
8. Don’t overwork.
The pressure of having to earn more to pay the bills could take a toll on your physical and mental health. Don’t allow yourself to overwork. Plan your trips in such a way that you still have time with your family and personal life.
9. Take that much needed vacation.
Taking time off from work for a vacation is not a popular thing among hotshot truckers. But this is possible with proper planning. Taking off from hotshot trucking has some emotional and mental benefits including preventing anxiety attack and maintaining a close relationship with your family. It does not have to be an expensive vacation. What’s important is that you spend it with the people who matter most to you.
10. Seek mental help.
If you feel like you are suffering from loneliness, depression, anxiety and other forms of mental condition, seek help from a professional. Don’t self-medicate as it will just make matters worse.
Your career in hotshot trucking doesn’t have to negatively affect you mentally. You can take advantage of the above mentioned tips to keep a positive mental health and continue a successful trucking career.