6 Mental Health Tips for the Summer
Schools are closing for summer and more cars are crowding the highways as vacations send people on the road. The longer daylight hours and the added traffic go a long way to light a short fuse on any truck driver.
It’s just as important to keep yourself mentally fit in the summer as it is through the dreary winter months. Here are some guidelines for truck drivers to keep their cool this summer.
Keep a schedule.
We know, we know. Truck drivers’ schedules are set by the docks they hit. A schedule doesn’t have to be absolutely rigid (allow for about 30-45 minutes buffer room where you need to), but it does give your body and mind an outline. When you wake up for the day, have a plan that includes sleep, breaks, exercise, meals, and work. Our minds like to have agendas to look forward to, especially when we do the same things around the same time from day to day.
Get your beauty rest.
It is easy to lose track of time when the sun is out longer, especially the further north you drive. However, it is important to have plenty of sleep no matter the season. Instead of waiting for the sun to set, keep your regular bedtime hours. Invest in blackout curtains or a heavy blanket to darken the cab. Keep your cab cool while you sleep to regulate your core temperature for optimal rest.
Move your body.
Exercise moves muscle groups that you’re not using while driving, so that your body is being fully engaged at some point during your day. The movement releases feel-good hormones in the brain to equip our minds to handle stress better. And a lot of the time, exercising is a good way to work out any pent up stress too. Regular exercise increases happy hormones, helps the body rid itself of negative stress hormones, and promotes better sleep.
Engage your brain.
Remember those old games you played in the car on family road trips when you were a kid? They exercised your brain while keeping your mind off the length of the drive and your parents sane. They can still do the same thing for you. Counting same cars, or different ones, looking for the alphabet, or spotting license plates keep your eyes moving while staying focused on the road.
Take care of personal relationships.
It’s important to not isolate yourself while you’re out on the road. Stay in touch with family and friends while you’re out. Listen as much as you talk to develop empathy (releases feel-good hormones) but also be sure you’re able to vent too (stress relief). You can also talk to other drivers on the road! Start some new relationships this summer. Don’t be afraid to say hi to other truck drivers when you’re at a truck stop. It’s good to meet new people and share a good conversation.
Anticipate your home time.
Plan something good as a goal to work towards on your home time. Getting a haircut, going fishing, taking the kids to the aquarium, whatever it is that sounds fun to you, plan it. Having something to look forward to helps keep you motivated in a happier state of mind.