Hotshot trucking is one of the most stressful jobs for drivers for many obvious reasons. Foremost is that you have to endure heavy traffic, tight deadlines, and unpredictable and extreme weather conditions, among others. It can also be stressful to find profitable loads to keep your business going. These are just on top of other challenges that you have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.
Thankfully, there are simple and effective ways to deal with stress:
1. Listen to soothing music
If you are in a stressful situation, take a break and listen to relaxing music. Research shows that music has a calming and soothing effect on the brain and body. It can also lower blood pressure and heart rate. More importantly, calming music reduces the production of cortisol, a hormone that is linked to stress.
Classical music is most ideal for people under stress, but if it isn’t your thing, you could also try listening to nature sounds as they have the best effect.
2. Get moving
All forms of exercise can ease stress and anxiety by helping the brain release endorphins which can give you a happy feeling. I know many truckers find it hard to exercise regularly. But you don’t have to go to the gym to exercise. You could do simple stretching, jogging or brisk walking around the truckstop. Strive to do it daily for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
3. Take a deep breath
Taking a deep breath helps clear your mind and offers immediate stress relief. That is why it’s a good practice to incorporate breathing exercises in your daily routine. It is a simple and fast exercise that you can do anytime and anywhere.
4. Maintain a healthy diet
Healthy foods are good not just for your body but also for your brain’s health. A healthy mind can cope with stress easily.
Avoid consuming greasy and salty foods at truck stops. Instead, try to consume more of fresh fruits, vegetables and healthy home meals. Also avoid sugar-packed soft drinks but drink more water.
You could check this article for more tips on how you can eat healthy while on the road.
5. Have adequate quality sleep
Don’t underestimate the power of adequate sleep. Lack of rest and sleep increases negative emotions such as sadness, anxiety and depression. It can also dampen positive emotions including the feeling of enthusiasm and joy. Moreover, sleep offers a host of health benefits including strengthening your immune system. It also sharpens your mind and body so that you have the energy to deal with another day at work.
Don’t compromise on sleep with your tight deadline. Our article on hotshot trucker tips for quality sleep can help you get quality sleep every day.
6. Make use of stress-reduction toys
Stress balls may seem insignificant to those who don’t know how they work. But they are more than just ordinary balls. These palm sized balls induce relaxation, help prevent muscle tension and give stress relief. Moreover, they are cheap and easy to use. You can bring a stress ball in your trips for fast stress relief.
7. Plan your route properly
Navigating unfamiliar places can be stressful especially if you also encounter heavy traffic and other obstacles while you are beating a deadline. You can have a smoother and less stressful trip if you plan your route ahead of time and check how you can easily reach your destination.
8. Learn to Say ‘No’
Having too much on your plate can also cause stress. Don’t commit to do something when you have too little time to do it. This can be true when it comes to accepting additional loads when you know that you are already pushing yourself to the limit to meet the deadline. Don’t hesitate to say no. It will help reduce your stress level and also helps prevent putting yourself and your business in a bad situation.
If you feel reluctant to say an outright no, there are many other ways to do it. You can use phrases such as, “I am sorry, but I have other priorities at the moment” and the like.
9. Avoid or reduce the consumption of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
We know of many drivers who drink more than 2 cups of coffee a day, that is, aside from consuming other caffeinated drinks, just to keep themselves awake. Many drivers also smoke. But do you know that both caffeine and nicotine in cigarettes will increase your stress level? Try to take in more water and natural juices and avoid smoking.
Alcohol, on the other hand, is bad when you are driving. But even if you don’t drive, consume alcohol moderately as alcoholic beverages if taken in large quantities can also cause your stress level to go up.
10. Don’t forget the power of humor
Humor is one of the best and easiest stress relievers. As they say, laughter is the best medicine and it applies to stress. Think of funny things, read joke books or watch comedy shows when you can to give you a good laugh. Smiling and laughing more often will help you destress.
11. Talk to someone
It’s a good idea to have a friend or someone you trust to accompany you during long drives. Having someone to talk to during your trips can help reduce homesickness, boredom and stress.
12. Meditate if you can
According to the Mayo Clinic, meditation is a simple and fast way to reduce stress. You should meditate for at least 10 minutes each day to restore your inner peace and help control or decrease anxiety, stress and other health and mental issues.
Meditation does not require special equipment and you can do it anytime and anywhere. You can even do it inside your vehicle while parking at a truckstop.
Stress is an unavoidable part of life, regardless of your profession. But even if it is unavoidable and something you’ll consider as a normal part of life, stress is something you should never ignore. Our top tips are effective strategies that can help reduce your stress level.