Managing Stress in Trucking

Like in every job, stress is something truckers have to deal with on the job day today. Whether it’s a dispatcher, equipment not working, traffic, being away from family, or issues with shipping and receiving, there are sources of stress in several aspects or interactions of the job.

Stress can affect your heart health, causing heart health problems and possibly even leading to cardiac arrest. That’s why it’s important to learn how to manage stress while you’re on the road.

The American Heart Association offers the following advice on how to manage stress:

1 Positive Self-Talk – If you’re in a cab alone all day, you probably talk to yourself, whether out loud or in your head. “Self-talk can be positive (“I can do this” or “everything will be OK”) or negative (“I’ll never get better” or “I’m so stupid”). Negative self-talk increases stress. Positive self-talk can help you calm down and control stress. With practice, you can learn to shift negative thoughts to positive ones.

To make it work, practice positive self-talk every day — in the car, at your desk, before you go to bed or whenever you notice negative thoughts. It’s a great practice to teach kids, too!

2 Emergency Stress-Stopper – These are actions to help you defuse stress in the moment. There are many different options and perhaps it will help to combine them. Here are some examples from the American Heart Association:

  1. Count to 10 before you speak or react.
  2. Take a few slow, deep breaths until you feel your body un-clench a bit.
  3. Go for a walk, even if it’s just to the restroom and back. It can help break the tension and give you a chance to think things through.
  4. Try a quick meditation or prayer to get some perspective.
  5. If it’s not urgent, sleep on it and respond tomorrow. This works especially well for stressful emails and social media trolls.
  6. Walk away from the situation for a while, and handle it later once things have calmed down.
  7. Break down big problems into smaller parts. Take one step at a time, instead of trying to tackle everything at once.
  8. Turn on some chill music or an inspirational podcast to help you deal with road rage.
  9. Take a break to pet the dog, hug a loved one or do something to help someone else.
  10. Work out or do something active. Exercise is a great antidote for stress.

Sure, some of these can’t be done while driving. if you can pull over to the side and catch your breath, it can help.

3 Do what you love – How do you feel when you do something you enjoy? “Doing things you enjoy is a natural way to relieve stress and find your happy place. Even when you’re down, you may find pleasure in simple things like going for a walk, catching up with a friend, or reading a good book.” Activities like taking a walk, daily meditation, reading a book or listening to your favorite band, can help you relax. “The key is to find your groove and make it a practice. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you may start to feel better once you disrupt the cycle of stress.”

Source: “3 Tips to Manage Stress” from the American Heart Association