OTR Driver Stress? 6 Easy Fixes
OTR drivers have high stress rates. But if you are a trucker, this isn't news to you: you live it every day. Most people know that stress isn't good for your overall health; but isn't it unavoidable in trucking?
Working in a stressful industry doesn't mean you have to be stressed. It is very possible to find calm as an OTR driver. Here are six tips to keep your stress in check.
1. Eliminate the Noise
What is "noisy" in your world? And not actual noise or volume, although that can be part of it. What is distracting you from the zen of the road? Can you shut it off? If it is political banter on satellite radio, try a few hundred miles without it. If it is your instant notifications on your Bluetooth headset, try shutting it off until you are on break. Not every immediate interruption deserves your immediate attention.
We hope you're breathing anyway or you are in trouble! Have you tried deep, relaxing breathing? Try taking six to 10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day. You will experience immediate reductions in your heart rate and blood pressure. If you can keep it up for six to eight weeks, studies show the benefits can last even longer. If you want more guidance, try the Breathe Strong app, which can help you learn to pace your breath, wherever you are.
3. Act Rather than React
There are things we can control in life and things we can't. Acknowledging the difference is a powerful way to eliminate unnecessary stress. Sometimes you get stuck at a weigh station longer than you planned, a reciever isn't ready for you, or the weather doesn't cooperate. If you can't control it, try to let it go.
4. Schedule Your Day Ahead of Time
As an OTR driver, scheduling your day, including fuel stops, loading stops, unloading stops and break time is absolutely one of the best ways to reduce your stress. As an added benefit you can usually save a lot of money if you aren't flying by the seat of your pants. Even just a few minutes of preparation will leave you feeling more in control.
5. Eat Well. Sleep Well.
What you eat can affect your stress level in profound ways. That quick snack might seem like a good choice in the moment, but the extra sugar and fat does nothing to help your stress levels, or your waistline. Bring fresh snacks along in your cab. Purchase healthy alternatives to tempting truck stop favorites. Instead of a bag of chips, try some flavored almonds. Instead of dessert cups, try a Greek yogurt with fresh fruit. It may take time, but if your body feels better, you are better equipped to handle stress.
Sleep. Schedule times to rest. You know your body. If you need 8 hours of sleep, don't short yourself. You'll just end up causing your body stress, or putting yourself and other drivers at risk.
6. It's All About Perspective.
Step back and look at your daily life with fresh eyes. If you were talking to another trucker in your situation, what would you tell him or her? As much as possible, move beyond the emotion of the situation and look at the facts. Feel the feelings, yes. But then take your own advice and move on!
K&J is always looking for great OTR drivers to add to their team of company drivers, owner operators and lease-to-own drivers! Click the image below for 10 Reasons for Driving with K&J Trucking!