PROTECTING YOUR DRIVERS’ MENTAL HEALTHMarch 1, 2023 2:25 pm
Historically, mental health has been a taboo subject. An issue shrouded in secrecy and shame. But this has all changed. We now live in a time where protecting and discussing mental health is our social responsibility.
It is no longer OK for companies to operate without a policy or programme that positively supports mental health and the general wellbeing of its employees. Prioritising your team’s mental wellness is now a measure of good business.
Trucking has long had a reputation as a lonely job. The shifts can be long, requiring extended periods away from friends and family while working hours at odds with our natural circadian rhythms. Without some essential self-care practices or access to support, feelings of isolation and disconnectedness can creep in and leave drivers vulnerable to a decline in mental health.
Compounding the issue is the nature of the work. Typically a sedentary job, trucking provides little opportunity for physical activity, with drivers prone to making unhealthy – yet convenient – food choices while on the road. When we combine these factors with any mental health vulnerability, the results can be catastrophic.
To protect our drivers from the risk factors, we can focus on three areas that will promote overall wellbeing and, therefore, their mental health.
Did you know that the better you sleep, the better you eat, and the more likely you are to exercise?
Quality sleep is a crucial component in maintaining a positive state of mind. Sleep deprivation leaves us vulnerable to the onset of stress and anxiety. Both can leave us feeling helpless and overwhelmed if left to spiral.
In an industry that often requires drivers to work through the night, falling asleep at the end of a shift can be difficult. Meditation, yoga, sleep teas, and natural sleep remedies, help people to unwind, relax and fall asleep more easily.
We suggest you build a catalogue of ideas and resources for your team to access if they are struggling to get the sleep they need to function optimally.
Did you know that the better you eat, the more charged to exercise you are, and the better you sleep?
A balanced and healthy diet is critical to supporting our physical and mental wellbeing.
Processed foods are high in sugar and unhealthy fats. Removing them from our diets supports good physical health and promotes mental clarity and optimum brain function.
Encourage your drivers to prepare packed meals ahead of their shifts and suggest fruit, vegetables and nuts as snack options. Choosing foods packed with vitamins and minerals helps to sustain energy levels.
Did you know that the more you exercise, the better you sleep and the better you eat?
Exercise releases endorphins, our body’s feel-good hormones. Endorphins help relieve stress and anxiety, promote a positive self-image, regulate appetite and boost immunity. And the good news is all it takes is 20 – 30 mins of physical activity daily to gain the benefits.
There are plenty of online resources and travel-friendly workouts that you can share with your drivers. Check out this one as a starting point.
Set up an Open Forum
Today, there are many platforms on which to hold group discussions, share resources and support each other. Find one that works for your team and build a community within.
Use the forum as a place to share advice, nutritious recipes, exercise routines, podcast recommendations, tips for a great night’s sleep or tools for maintaining a positive mindset.
Load this forum with as many resources as possible. Don’t be afraid to invest in programmes that support your efforts. You never know, this initiative could become one of your company’s most valuable assets!
For more resources or advice on how you can implement some positive changes, check out the New Zealand Trucking Association’s holistic wellbeing programme Are You Trucking Along Ok?