Freight and logistics companies face a major challenge when it comes to preserving the mental health of their truck drivers. While this is a subject that’s not often discussed, it’s one that’s crucial to the smooth operations of a business, and for the drivers who have to get behind the wheel.
Poor mental health can have a detrimental effect on performance and could lead to an accident, loss or damage of a vehicle or cargo, or even a loss of life.
While drivers are not able to do the ‘usual’ activities recommended for decreasing stress, there are a number of ways they can preserve their mental health and still be productive.
- Structure shifts for adequate sleep
While there are regulations that govern how long truckers are allowed to be on the road or how many consecutive hours they may drive, often the rest periods they do take are interrupted, cut short or simply not in ideal conditions.
In order for anyone to keep mental health in balance, it’s vital to get enough sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults between the ages of 26 and 64 require seven to nine hours of sleep nightly in order to be healthy. Thus, in order to maintain the mental health of your drivers, you need to structure shifts so they can get the recommended hours of sleep. Also, make sure that they sleep in proper beds in areas that are not well-lit, as this will improve the quality of their rest.
- Promote healthy eating practices
Another way that you can make sure drivers’ mental health remains intact is by ensuring they eat properly. A poor diet can have a huge effect on the way we feel and can lead to feeling sluggish, unalert or depressed.
Give drivers a reasonable food allowance so they can eat at places where fresh fruits and vegetables are on the menu. If they’re not sure about what goes into a good diet, the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy & Promotion has developed the concept of the food plate in order to help people understand what good nutrition means and how it can be integrated into daily life.
- Teach them how to stretch
One of the go-to recommendations for improving mental health and de-stressing is going to yoga. This is because when we sit for prolonged periods of time, we put undue tension on particular parts of our bodies. These particular muscles which are tighter than normal cause us to feel stressed. Activities such as yoga help to stretch out these tight muscles.
Drivers sits holding a steering wheel for hours at a time. Thus, their necks and shoulders can become incredibly sore, which affects their mood and mental health. Teaching them how to stretch can go a long way to helping them feel better and can improve their mood and general alertness as well.
- Maximize opportunities for mental stimulation
Mental activity can lead to a decrease in mental illness and keeping the brain busy has numerous benefits. Staying mentally stimulated has also been shown to improve cognition levels as it increases blood flow to the brain.
Keeping drivers’ brains busy will not only boost their mood but keep them awake and alert too. Encourage your drivers to listen to audiobooks and podcasts instead of simply playing the radio. This will help to keep them engaged while driving and may also boost response times because they’ll develop an improved focus.
- Encourage family connections
The American Psychological Association states that researchers have found that social isolation and loneliness are more harmful to people’s mental and physical health than obesity is.
Being a truck driver is a very lonely job, which makes them very prone to depression and anxiety. To avoid this, you should make sure that your employees don’t stay on the road for months at a time without any physical contact with their friends and family. Schedule regular breaks for your drivers that give them enough time to reconnect with their loved ones in meaningful ways.
Truck drivers face plenty of stress and loneliness while on the job, and employees who look after their mental health will not only have a happier workforce, they’ll also have a more productive one.