Truck driving is one of the most stressful jobs out there. Between the long hours, crazy schedules, scary weather conditions and irresponsible 4-wheelers, a lot of white-knuckling can occur behind the wheel.
Stress can affect you in many ways, both physically and mentally. It can cause anger, irritability, rashes, aches and pains, increased blood pressure, nausea, diabetes, and more. Yeah, you could say stress is a pretty big deal.
Try to avoid as much stress as you can from the start by keeping your mind clear and your body healthy. As a truck driver, an important part of keeping your mind clear is de-stressing your driving! You’re going to be doing a LOT of it, so it would behoove you to nix any stressors that come with the territory to the best of your ability. Four-wheelers can for sure be a hassle, but if you let them get to you, every day of driving will be a chore. So without further ado, here are 6 ways to de-stress your driving.
1) Get some exercise.
Try getting in a quick workout in the morning before you take off for the day. It doesn’t have to be anything super strenuous, but you should aim to get your heart rate up. A brisk walk around the truck stop will get your heart pumpin’ and give you a great boost to your day. You know what they say — exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy! Beginning the day on a happy note will reduce the amount of stress you feel on the job. 4-wheelers probably won’t drive any better, but you won’t get so annoyed by them.
2) Plan trips efficiently.
Planning your routes efficiently will do wonders to de-stress your driving. Planning your trips in advance will help you avoid potential hazards like low bridges, off-road limits, and hilly territories. Technology is not always reliable, so it’s better to plan your route yourself with a trucker’s atlas than rely on a GPS and risk getting lost or stuck under a bridge somewhere.
3) Leave earlier.
Worrying about arriving on time can be a big stressor in a trucker’s life. This stress can easily be alleviated by getting an earlier start to your day! Even a head-start of as little as 15-20 minutes gives you a little time cushion to ensure that you get where you need to be on time.
4) Drive defensively.
Anybody who has worked as a truck driver knows how much of an annoyance 4-wheelers can be when you’re operating a 40-ton vehicle. Cars are constantly weaving in and out of traffic and cutting in front of you, failing to think about how long it takes you to stop. Part of avoiding these potentially dangerous situations is anticipating them.
Keep a close eye on the behavior of the 4-wheelers around you – you sit up higher, you can see things that others can’t. You can usually tell which cars are going to drive erratically and cut in front of you — they’re the ones speeding, driving like maniacs, and weaving in and out of lanes. Also be on the lookout for distracted drivers i.e., those on their phones, talking to people in the car, or rubbernecking a previous accident. By watching them and keeping your distance, you can anticipate behavior and avoid accidents, therefore reducing your stress levels.
Assuming you’re a solo driver, use the alone time to calm yourself down and relax! It’s hard to be stressed out when you’re listening to cool jazz or following along with an audiobook. Anything that calms your nerves will help de-stress your drive, but be mindful of just how relaxed it makes you. We don’t want anyone falling asleep at the wheel!
6) Smile. 🙂
Say cheeeese! It’s hard to be mad when you’re smiling, even if you’re faking it. Seriously, put on your most cheese-tastic grin right now and try to be angry. It’s just not possible!
Smile when you let people in front of you. Smile when cars pass you on the highway. Smile even if you’re in a craptastic mood and everyone’s ticking you off. It’s scientifically proven that smiling, even if fake, will put you in a better mood. As they say, fake it ’til you make it!