5 Ways to Prevent Truck Driver Depression
Depression is often associated with stress and anxiety, so a stressful work environment can put employees at a greater risk. Long-haul truck drivers are vulnerable to depression due to the high demands of their job, including:
- Extended periods of time away from family and friends
- Long hours
- Irregular work/rest schedule
- Isolation on the road
- General dangers of driving, increased by vehicle size
To keep your truck drivers healthy and prevent them from falling into depression, encourage drivers to try at least one of these tips as part of their work routine:
1. Keep in Touch
Keep up with your social connections as much and as often as possible. By meeting other truckers at stops, drivers can build relationships and community with people who face the same challenges. Just sharing their struggles with someone else who understands can take away feelings of isolation.
Also, drivers can use apps on smartphones to keep in touch with family members and friends back home. Having meaningful conversations with people they love can be an instant mood booster for drivers during those long hours on the road.
2. Choose Healthier Food Options
The road isn’t very friendly to a driver’s waist line. A lot of the time, it’s difficult for drivers to find anything but fast food and high calorie truck stop snacks. This can put drivers on the fast track toward obesity, which is another risk factor of depression.
If possible, drivers should keep a refrigerator or cooler in the truck to hold fresh fruits and vegetables. Other healthy snack options include nuts, dried fruits, protein bars, and beef jerky. For meals, drivers can pack a cooler or scout out healthier stops in advance rather than rely on traditional fast food.
3. Get Moving
Sitting for hours at a time isn’t good for anyone. And with limited breaks to stop and stretch, drivers need to make the most of their down time by exercising.
Exercise improves a person’s health and releases hormones that help fight stress and depression. Drivers should take advantage of fitness centers when possible, go for a walk or jog on their downtime, or complete body weight exercises for at least 30 minutes a day.
4. Enjoy a Good Beat
Try singing along to your favorite songs without a smile on your face – it’s nearly impossible! Listening and singing along to upbeat music can help improve a driver’s mood and make the long road ahead a little less…long.
If the road is causing anxiety or your truck drivers are sleeping poorly, encourage them to listen to quiet, calming music to reduce stress.
5. Adopt a Companion
This might not be a possibility for every driver, but adopting a “trucking cat” was exactly what long-haul truck driver Karyn Marshall needed to avoid depression. Karyn adopted Snickers from a rescue center and he quickly adapted to life on the road, spending most of his days happily sun bathing on the dashboard of the truck.
Not only is Snickers a comfort to Karyn on the long stretches away from home, he’s also improved her social life. People often want to meet Snickers, giving Karyn the chance to regularly meet new people.
Help your drivers reduce stress and lower the risk of depression on the road by using these tips to make their health a priority.