It is so important to be aware of how you feel, reduce work related stress and pressures, and take the time to care for your mental health and wellness when driving. Increased stress can lead to more serious mental health issues and already in England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem every week.
Maintaining a good sense of mental health awareness will get you through some of the toughest times on the road. Long hours out alone, overnight trunking, navigating notorious UK traffic, working around other road users, and trying to remain calm when you are under pressure to deliver on time, all of this can really take it out of you if you don’t ensure you have effective coping mechanisms and stress relieving techniques that work for you to hand.
We care about our drivers, so here is some of our advice on de-stressing whilst driving your HGVs and LGVs.
Causes Of Stress
Stress can often come from being overworked but the HGV driving hours are there to protect you as a driver and to ensure your health is considered and maintained. Sticking to your timings and maximising your downtime and breaks is vitally important for making sure you are awake and alert whilst driving.
Being away from loved ones or simply confined away in your cab for hours or days on end can also cause stress. So make sure you are creating a clear work life balance! Humans are inherently social beings and no matter how much you may enjoy your alone time; loneliness has a way of creeping up on you.
Stress Can Often Trigger Burnout. But the good news is, there are ways you can avoid this with the added bonus of lowering your stress levels as you go:
- First up, eat good, wholesome foods to keep your energy up and tiredness at bay
- Avoid sugary processed foods where possible, you may feel you need the sugar high but that high is always followed by the inevitable low
- Make sure you maximise your rest periods by taking power naps and doing some gentle stretching exercises; scientists say a power nap should be taken in groups of 20 minutes (20mins, 40mins, 1hr etc.) as this is the average time it takes to complete one complete sleep cycle
- Finally, drink plenty of fluids whilst on the road but don’t overload on caffeinated beverages
Keeping Stress-Free On the Road
Try to keep a cool head and avoid getting frustrated by other road users. We know this is always easier said than done but we’ve put together a couple ways to manage feelings that may arise whilst driving:
- Be vigilant of your surroundings, keep your eyes on the road and be mindful of other drivers
- Similar to the first, anticipate other drivers’ behaviours but remember to expect the unexpected
- Take deep breaths – it’s obvious but so important
- And finally, listen to some music, a podcast, or an audiobook to occupy your mind
Moving Your Body
Your physical fitness is just as important to be aware of and maintain as your mental health. There is often a correlation between how physical health and fitness can affect mental health, and vice versa.
Comfort eating, lethargy, aches, pains, low self-esteem, and feelings of insecurity can create a harmful cycle of behaviour that is increasingly difficult to break. Just a little stroll to stretch your legs and get some fresh air could make all the difference.
At the end of the day, stress is unavoidable. We are all going to be faced with it throughout our lives but it’s how we manage and deal with it that matters most. Hopefully these tips can help to de-stress you, should you find yourself tensing up or finding days too hard. Remember, it’s little and often and the stress will surely ebb away.
If you are struggling or need someone to talk to there are many ways to reach out and get help:
Samaritans – Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair. Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline). Website: www.samaritans.org
CALM – CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35. Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight). Website: www.thecalmzone.net
Looking for more tips for being on the road? Check out some of our previous blogs.