Stress is just a part of life. Watch out for anyone who says they don’t stress about anything. They have probably let go of the wheel and are drifting blissfully over the rumble strips. If you stress about something, you care about it. That means there can be good stress and bad stress. Good stress makes you try harder than you would if you didn’t care. It pushes you to compete, to give your best, and to eventually make you better.
We’re not here to talk about good stress, but bad stress. How can we avoid bad stress behind the wheel and off the clock? It’s no secret truckers have a stressful job that presents different challenges all the time. Bad stress can get you so twisted that it’s impossible to enjoy even a minute of the job or your life outside work. Studies have shown bad stress can mess with your health, get you depressed, and give you a short fuse. So if stress can’t be avoided by CDL drivers, how can it be lowered?
Ways to Lower Stress
1. Eat Right, Stretch, Exercise. It’s almost cliche at this point, but it’s true. If stress has a bad effect on how your body feels, then make your body feel better and the stress will drop. That’s easier said than done, but there are simple ways to change up your eating habits and build simple exercise routines for when you’re on the road.
2. Stay Organized. Psychologists have observed a link between tidiness/organization and mental health. So make a plan for the day or week, plan your route before you go, and keep your work areas tidy. Knowing what’s coming up and being prepped for the unexpected helps reduce the stress of the future.
3. Be Comfortable. Sometimes, you don’t realize how uncomfortable you were until you move. Truckers sit in the same seat for long long stretches of time. If one little part of you is uncomfortable behind the wheel, that can nag at the back of your mind and cause you stress before you’ve even thought about it. Pay attention to any parts of you that feel sore, too hot or cold, or just a little off when you drive. Then rearrange your space to maximize comfort.
4. Plan Success. There are so many chores and tasks every day, and most of them we don’t even know about when we start the day. But doing something you planned and finishing it feels good. Even if the day is hectic, you can look back and say, “At least I got that done and did it right.” So set a simple goal or task for yourself to accomplish at the beginning of the day, then several more throughout the day. Give yourself an easy win.
5. Have a Friend. Be present in someone’s life and have someone you can open up to. Talking about your stress (or just your day in general) with other people helps you process it. Listening to someone else’s story about their life helps you widen your focus beyond the events of your day alone. Wider perspective can help shrink the size of the stress in your life.
These are just a few of many good ideas for lowering stress on the road and off it. If you’re stressed, this list may just seem extra work to make you more stressed. However, if you just try out one or two of these ideas, you’ll find the bad stress in your day easing up a little. Give them a try, or check out these other articles for more ideas.