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truck driver depression

Truck drivers spend a significant time away from home. They might not have much quality time with family and friends for long stretches of time. Truckers might spend most of their day without actually talking to anyone face-to-face. Compound this with an extremely high-stress job, and it’s probably not too difficult for a trucker to develop some feelings of loneliness and anxiety. If those feelings don’t get addressed properly, true depression can soon follow. Here are 3 ways to overcome truck driver depression.

What is Depression?

Almost everyone has days when they’re just not feeling 100% happy. Or maybe a mild stretch of feeling sad over something. But actual depression is different. It’s when these feeling last more than a few weeks. And the symptoms cause physical changes to a person’s everyday life. Symptoms can range from mild things like loss of sleep, mood swings, or lack of energy. Sometimes symptoms can be more severe, and result in someone not able to get out of bed or leave their house for days. Truck driver depression rates are almost 2 times that of the general population..

More than 17 million U.S. adults—over 7% of the population—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.  – National Alliance on Mental Illness

Tip 1: Recognize and React

Be receptive to your own thoughts and feelings. Also be accepting of others asking you if you’re doing ok. Once you’re aware that there’s an issue, you can work to make changes to help address it. Truck drivers usually have time in the evenings to do their research. Take that alone time and flip it from a negative to a positive. Listen to a good mental health podcast. Start to put together plans to begin to feel better, and stay ahead of things should symptoms arise again the future.

Tip 2: Don’t Make Things Worse

Rather than dealing with any type of problem, some people think that things will just get better or try to fix it themselves. Or some people prefer to not seek help when they don’t feel great, and just hope things go away. With depression, it’s not always just that easy. Thinking this way often leads people to try and mask systems by abusing alcohol or drugs. Or taking out anger and frustrations on friends or loved ones. Truck drivers already have a high rate of drug/alcohol abuse. Seek help as soon as you recognize symptoms. This is something that’s not just going to go away on it’s own if left untreated.

Tip 3: Plan to Stay Healthy

Once truck driver depression is being treated, it’s time to start planning ahead to make sure they stay healthy. There’s plenty of resources out there that help find ways to reduce stress. There’s plenty of ways to stay in touch with your family and friends while away from home. And lastly, there’s plenty of ways to keep your mind and body in shape with a good diet and plenty of exercise out on the road.

Changing Times

The stigma associated with mental disorders and illness continue to decrease. People with depression issues no longer need to hide in the shadows alone. There are more support organizations and resources available than there ever have been. Some trucking companies even offer mental health benefits and resources specifically to their drivers. Truck driver depression is something that can be identified, treated and overcome when the driver connects with the right resources.

If you or someone you know are struggling with depression, and need someone to talk to, please seek help. If you can’t get in touch with your doctor. a great place to seek help is through the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, ET. 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org.

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The Ultimate Guide for Truck Drivers to Maintain 3 Healthy Habits Over the Road

Download the complete guide for tips to easily maintain healthy habits over the road.

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Truck drivers often struggle with maintaining healthy habits over the road because they often lead a sedentary lifestyle when driving long distances. Extended hours spent in the truck can often lead to higher levels of stress, dependence on stimulants to stay alert, less activity throughout the day, and lack of access to healthy food options. This tends to take a toll on drivers as they have a hard time overcoming these obstacles.

In order to provide drivers with access to healthy habits and tips for easily maintaining them, we put together this ultimate guide.

easy-exercises-workout-truck-drivers1. Exercise

Truck drivers can work up to 11 hours per day, and this oftentimes leaves little room for breaks or exercise. When trying to find the time for exercising, drivers need activities that can be completed virtually anywhere, don’t take a lot of time, and are effective.

The list of exercises below is an easy way to incorporate activity into a truck driver’s day. Drivers can either choose a routine that doesn’t require any equipment or weights, or they can choose a routine that involves using a pair of free weights.

Time Per Exercise Using Only Your Body Weight Or Using Free Weights
1 minute Squats Single Arm Row
REST FOR 30 SECONDS
1 minute Push-Ups Double Chest Press
REST FOR 30 SECONDS
1 minute Lunges Split Squat
REST FOR 30 SECONDS
1 minute Tricep Dips Bicep Curls
REST FOR 30 SECONDS
1 minute Jumping Jacks Lunges with Weights
REPEAT CYCLE THREE TIMES TO COMPLETE WORKOUT

When running through these exercises, it’s recommended to do each exercise as many times as possible for 1 full minute, rest for 30 seconds in between each exercise, and then repeat the entire cycle of exercises 3 times. This will produce a high-intensity, full-body workout in 20 minutes, which can be repeated easily a few times per week.

Freightliner In-Cab Training System

Some truck drivers have even taken working out to the next level and have discovered a way to incorporate a complete gym in their truck by using the FIT System (Freightliner In-Cab Training System).

This exercise and flexibility system is designed to allow the driver to do an upper body, lower body, and cardiovascular workout in the comfort and safety of the cab of their truck. The system is easy to install and use in the truck and can also be brought inside to a home or hotel room.

healthy-food-options-recipes-truck-drivers2. Healthy Food Options

We’ve all heard that we need to eat more fruits and vegetables. But truckers often face difficulty when trying to access healthy food options, especially fresh produce. Planning ahead and packing food for the road is the best way to not settle for fast food when it comes time for the next meal.

Most drivers who bring food in their truck prepare ahead and pack meals that can be kept in a small cooler. Below are a few ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that are easy for truck drivers to grab from their cooler, heat up in their microwave, and enjoy quickly on a break.

Breakfast Ideas Lunch Ideas Dinner Ideas
Protein Smoothie or Protein Bar Pasta Salad with Veggies Chicken and Veggie Quesadillas
Oatmeal with Berries and Nuts Turkey Burger Grilled Chicken with a Potato Side
Toast with Peanut Butter Grilled Chicken Salad Chili

In between meals, many truck drivers also look for snacks that will keep them full and alert while driving. Making good snacking choices can help drivers maintain energy longer and avoid consuming empty calories.

Before reaching for that next snack, be sure to check out the good and bad lists below:

The Good Snack List The Bad Snack List
Apple, Celery, or Banana with Peanut Butter Candy
Pita and Hummus Rice Cakes/Crackers
Protein Energy Balls Pretzels
Yogurt Veggie Straws
Overnight Oats Potato Chips
Trail Mix: Nuts, Seeds, Dried Fruit Cereal
Hardboiled Egg Brownie or other sweet treats

Truckers Who Pack Also Save Money

In addition to having quick, easy access to healthier food options, drivers who pack their meals often also see increased financial savings from month to month. Research shows that the number one expense for drivers is food. By packing snacks and meals ahead of a drive, truckers be less inclined to stop at a fast-food restaurant, and will in turn, save cash and calories.

sleep-relax-meditate-truck-drivers3. Sleep and Relax

After a long day spent driving, a good night’s sleep is exactly what most truck drivers need. Not only does resting allow drivers to regain strength for the next day, but it also helps them unwind physically and mentally. However, being able to fully unwind after driving all day may sound easier than it is.

To help drivers change gears after a shift and start to relax, it’s recommended to avoid eating at least three hours before bedtime, turn off electronics at least 30 minutes before sleeping, and even try meditating. These activities will allow the body to start melatonin production for a restful night’s sleep.

When preparing for bedtime, consider the do and don’t lists below:

The Do List The Don’t List
Listen to relaxing music Watch TV or videos
Meditate Talk to others on the phone
Drink a glass of water or warm tea Enjoy one last snack of the day
Read a book or magazine Scroll through Facebook or other social apps
Dim the lights Have bright lights on in the truck

Benefits of Meditation for Truck Drivers

Meditation is proven to help drivers refocus after a long day and ensure a better night’s sleep. Drivers can meditate easily by downloading an app such as Headspace or Calm, or they can practice the same meditation techniques without needing any technology. In order to get started, drivers can sit in a chair or in their truck, and place their feet flat on the floor. They can then place their palms face down on their lap, closing their eyes. Then, they can breathe slowly and deeply for 10-15 minutes, trying to keep their mind blank.

Taking an extra 10 minutes each morning or evening to unwind can be extremely beneficial for a driver’s mental and emotional well-being, especially after a long day on the road.

We hope this ultimate guide will help truck drivers learn and maintain these three healthy habits over the road!

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truck driver stress

Stress management can be a considerable challenge for many truck drivers. Many factors contribute to truck driver stress. You have to maintain constant focus on the road while spending significant time away from friends and family.

Combine this with several other demanding merchandise transport responsibilities and your job can easily become overwhelming if you don’t find effective ways to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

Here are some beneficial tips for staying stress-free on the road.

1. Eat healthy

A healthy body directly contributes to a healthy mind. Maintaining a healthy diet can help reduce irritability and depression, as well as help you feel more awake when driving and get a better overall sleep.

Many people assume eating healthy food requires sacrificing tastiness and simply munching celery sticks for the foreseeable future (not that there’s anything wrong with celery sticks). This is not the case, however, as there are many healthier choices you can make without resorting to boring, bland snacking.

2. Sleep well to avoid fatigue

Lack of sleep can spell disaster when driving long distances. However, sometimes it’s difficult getting the necessary 6-8 hours our bodies need to stay alert and avoid becoming fatigued.

If you’re having trouble getting the right amount of sleep, here are some helpful suggestions:

  • Limit your caffeine intake and avoid it a couple hours before sleeping
  • Restrict your exposure to light before bed (phones, tablets, etc.)
  • As mentioned above, maintain a healthy diet
  • Find a truck stop and take a short nap if you start to feel overly fatigued
3. Be social

One of the main causes of stress on the road is being away from friends and family. This lack of social connection can be a factor in depression.

Be sure to check in with friends and family back home on a regular basis. Also, don’t hesitate to start a chat with fellow truckers at different truck stops.

Another great way to combat loneliness is to bring a pet with you. If your employer allows it, that is.

4. Maintain fitness

Maintaining a daily fitness routine, combined with healthy eating, is a sure-fire way to beat stress on the road. It can, however, be difficult to find the time and resources to exercise when traveling.

Regardless, you should aim to get about 15 to 30 minutes of exercise per day to relieve stress. Start with some easy exercises and modify them as you progress.

Bonus: listen to your favorite podcast or music playlist

Making a playlist full of your favorite tunes can be a great stress reliever when driving long distances. Have a favorite podcast? Listen to a couple episodes per day to keep your mind interested and engaged instead of letting it wander.

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