A Truck Driver’s Guide to Taking Care of Your Mental Health

Trucking is physically draining on drivers with long hours sitting in the same position and tension felt across tight, aching muscles. In addition to the physical effects that truck drivers endure on the job, mental health can take a serious blow as well. Sleep disturbances, loneliness, anxiety, and depression are unfortunately common for truck drivers. What can you do to take care of your mental health while working as a trucker?

Take Walks on Breaks

When you exercise, your body releases endorphins and decreases the production of stress hormones. Feelings of anxiety and depression are reduced by something as simple as taking short walks several times a day. When you stop to refuel your truck, spend a few extra minutes walking around. In addition to walking on breaks, invest in some barbells and bands to work out with when you are not driving. Before and after sleeping, do a few light stretching exercises for additional benefit. You can also stay at hotels that have a fitness center for a better workout a few times per week.

Establish a Good Sleep Schedule

Sleeping on the road is a challenge thanks to various unusual sounds, cramped muscles, uncomfortable bedding, and other issues. Falling and staying asleep is easier to do when you have a regular sleep schedule. Invest in a pair of earplugs. If light is a concern, get a sleep mask. You can also increase your comfort when sleeping in strange beds by bringing a pillow from home. You can even pack a rollout foam mat, such as what campers use under their sleeping bags. If you continue to have trouble sleeping, learn how to meditate to relieve stress before bed.

Stay in Touch with Family and Friends

Fighting loneliness is important for your mental health as a truck driver. While you could strike up a few conversations at various diners and gas stations where you stop, you also need a deeper connection. Get in the habit of connecting with family and friends when you are not driving. You may call your spouse and kids daily, and you can also work in additional conversations with siblings, parents, and others periodically. These meaningful conversations can do wonders for eliminating loneliness and helping you feel more connected to your support network.

Improve Your Diet

Many truck drivers get their meals and snacks from gas stations and fast food restaurants as a matter of convenience. Unfortunately, finding healthy options at these places is difficult. Consider placing a small cooler in your truck, and filling it with fresh fruit, yogurt, sandwiches, and other treats. When you find healthy options at your pit-stop locations, restock your cooler. Getting nutrients from healthy foods directly and beneficially supports your mental health.
Truck drivers’ mental health affects their safety on the road as well as their overall satisfaction with work, relationships, and even overall life. These are helpful steps to take to improve mental health for those working in the trucking industry. However, if you continue to struggle, reach out for help through the available mental health resources.