Mental Health and Driving a Truck

8 Tips To Help You Survive Your OTR Transition

For most new drivers, a new driving job means being away from home for longer than you have been away before and a feeling of a lack of social support – all while adjusting to a new life over the road.

There is no denying that life over the road can be stressful. The living conditions are not the best and heavy traffic and extreme weather conditions can make the job more difficult. The stress all these parts play can take a toll on the mental and physical health of a driver.

Below are some pointers and ideas that experienced drivers here at Truck America Training have shared that worked to help them through stressful times when they were over the road.

1. Travel with a pet

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Find out from your company if you can travel with your furry friend. Many companies allow you to take a dog or cat for a small monthly fee.

Here’s some tips and tricks for traveling OTR with your pet.

2. Get adequate rest

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Sleep deprivation is a primary culprit in both physical and mental health.

To help rest easier, try your best to create a consistent schedule. Since we know this isn’t always possible, here are some other ideas to help you sleep better in your rig:
– Take breaks before you are too fatigued
– Block out noise and light when it’s time to sleep. Wear a mask and earplugs if need be.
– Invest in a cozy mattress pad, pillow and bedding for your sleeper.

Here’s some tips provided by the CDC

3. Take walks

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Get out of your truck and stretch any chance you can! If there is a safe place to walk, go for a stroll. A peaceful walk is a great way to get out of your truck, inhale some fresh air, and clear your mind.

If you travel with a dog, it’s also a great time to let the pup move around.

4. Bring a rider

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After you have completed your training period, many trucking companies allow you to bring a rider along. Some companies only allow a spouse, but others are more flexible about allowing you to take a friend or child (over a certain age).

Showing your spouse or significant other your work life can allow them to understand your time away better and can provide you a support system who can better understand your day-to-day stresses.

5. Maintain quality relationships

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Talk to your friends and family daily. Utilize video chat when you’re stopped to drop in at home and see your spouse and/or children. Call and connect with folks who can provide support and comfort when you’re away.

6. Bring some comforts from home

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Bring things that will provide you comfort. TV, computers, or a video game are common add-on items we see drivers put in their sleepers.

Some other comforts can be your favorite blanket/comforter, a cozy pillow from home, or your favorite sweatshirt. Think of these items as bringing an adult version of a security blanket!

7. Favor a healthy lifestyle

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A healthy body is a key part of maintaining a healthy mind. Cut out the junk food/fast food and opt to pack healthier meals. Instead of keeping chips and other junk foods on-hand in the truck, keep fruits and veggies or nuts around.

Any chance you can, move and exercise. Keep resistance bands around or some weights to get in quick workouts. Go for walks when you can.

8. Talk to other drivers

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Many companies offer means of support through Driver Chaplin or Driver Mentor programs. Stay in touch with your trainers and ask questions when you have doubts – even when you’ve completed your training, stay in touch when you need advise.

Make friends with other drivers who you can relate to and vent to when needed. Create a support system of people you can rely on to provide you help when needed, or simply provide you someone who you can vent your frustrations.