The life of a long-distance lorry driver can be notoriously difficult. The nature of the job requires drivers to be sedentary for hours at a time and the availability of food at service stations and rest stops is often unhealthy.
According to the Structured Health Intervention For Truckers (SHIFT) Study, many lorry drivers are also sleep-deprived, receiving less than five hours of sleep per day. All of these factors contribute towards the higher incidence of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes that is prevalent in the industry. Fortunately, however, many operators in the industry are keen to promote the health and wellbeing of their drivers. One way employers can do this is through mental health training courses for their employees.
In addition to physical well-being, the Mental Health Charity, Mind, has found that 30% of work-related illness in the transport and logistics industry is due to stress, depression, and anxiety. This can be due to the long shifts, feelings of isolation, disrupted or inadequate sleep, and the stress of the job itself.
Below are some helpful ways to promote the mental well-being of your drivers.
1. Healthy Eating
It can be tempting to grab a sugary snack or other high-calorie fast food to act as a pick-me-up after a long spell of driving. Not only will such foods add to your waistline but they will also cause spikes in your blood sugar which lead to a sudden drop or ‘crash’ in glucose levels. This can make you feel tired, irritable, dizzy, and hungry.
Instead, try to eat foods that are nutritious and release carbohydrates slowly and steadily, keeping you fuelled for longer. Some examples include bananas, cereal bars, peanut butter, dried fruit, and nuts. It’s also a good idea to make your own sandwiches, salads or snacks, ensuring you have something healthy to eat for your journey.
2. Taking Breaks
It’s important to give your mind and body time to rest and recharge. A break can also offer you the chance to call a friend or loved one to help reduce any feelings of social isolation and loneliness.
Concentrating on the road for long periods at a time can be tiring and can result in drowsiness and fatigue. To stay as sharp as possible, take breaks by parking your vehicle somewhere quiet and safe where you can rest and sleep if required. This can not only enhance your mood but will also make you a safer driver.
As part of your break, make sure to get out of your vehicle and move your body. Stretch your legs, rotate your wrists and shrug your shoulders. Some deep breathing in the fresh air can also help to enliven your body and mind.
3. Focus Your Mind
Endless hours on the road with just yourself for company can provide the perfect opportunity to focus your attention on a particular topic.
Listening to an interesting or uplifting podcast or audiobook can be a great way to keep your mind stimulated and alert, making your journey more enjoyable. Meditation and calming apps are also wonderful tools to use on your breaks or before sleep to help you relax and unwind your body and mind.
With the advice in this article, you can greatly support the mental health and well-being of your drivers.