Practical steps to promote driver mental health

Commercial truck drivers are often alone which can exacerbate mental health issues. Statistics tell us that one in five people in the United States struggles with a mental health problem, which includes hundreds of thousands of truck drivers.

Mental health has a direct impact upon physical health with stress, anxiety and depression increasing the chances of developing metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes, migraine headaches, allergies, fatigue and muscle and joint pain. Since we just wrapped up Mental Health Month in the United States, it’s a good time to take a look at ways truck drivers can address any issues or stave them off with practical, proactive steps.

Get active. Physical activity not only helps keep the weight in check, but it boosts your immune system and improves your mental health. When you take time to move your body, you burn stress hormones, and feel more energized, focused, and calm. It’s hard when you’re on the road but you can break up your day by cleaning the truck or walking a few laps around the truck and trailer. If your health allows, go for a run or carry a bicycle with you for a brisk ride.

Focus on the present. Leave regrets behind and resist negative thinking. You can’t change the past or control the future so stay focused on the present to avoid negativity taking root. Consider keeping a journal to record what’s on your mind so you can better understand the emotions that may cause depression and anxiety.

Connect with others. For professional drivers, isolation is part of the job. But you can make the most of smart phone technology by connecting via Zoom or Skype or making a Facetime call to stay in touch. It’ll be good for you and your loved ones!

Remember, if you feel you’re facing a crisis, you can always reach out for help to organizations such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, (800) 273-8255 or the Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741-741 for 24/7 support via text.