More than almost every other profession, commercial driving is a lifestyle as well as a job. While some people enjoy this lifestyle and the sense of purpose it brings, there are also risks. Some find it hard to stop thinking about work once they get a truck driving job, which can lead to stress and burnout. The inability to get enough rest and relaxation can become overwhelming, and there are also significant dangers associated with driving while stressed. Understanding driver burnout is critical to staying happy and safe on the road.
What Is Truck Driver Burnout?
Simply put, burnout is a way of talking about extreme mental and physical exhaustion from the job. Truck drivers are especially susceptible to this because of the way so many of them build entire lives around the job. Truck driving jobs pay well, but they’re also extremely demanding. A shortage of drivers in the industry leads some people to work too much and become overwhelmed. Watch out for the warning signs of burnout, because they can be dangerous both for the driver and for others on the road.
Symptoms of truck driver burnout can be mental or physical, and they’re often associated with changes in behavior as well. Know the signs, and don’t hesitate to take action if you start to notice any of the following symptoms:
- You’re feeling tired all the time, even after a full night of sleep.
- You feel like you’re under the weather. This could mean getting sick frequently, experiencing unusually sore, or having other pain like headaches more than normal.
- You feel anxious and find that you’re doubting yourself.
- There’s a sense of loneliness on the road, which makes you miss your friends, family, and other loved ones constantly.
- You regularly feel underappreciated and frustrated by other drivers, dispatchers, shippers, and receivers.
- The job isn’t as appealing to you as it used to be and you don’t feel motivated anymore.
- Frustration and irritability on the road become common.
- You’re gaining weight rapidly.
- Your sleep pattern or appetite changes.
What Happens if I Get Burned out on Truck Driving?
Don’t ignore the symptoms of burnout. Any of the symptoms above can be extremely unpleasant, and the problems aren’t likely to go away on their own. Feeling burned out can make you less sharp on the road, which is dangerous because it creates a higher risk of accidents. Long periods of feeling unwell can also lead to serious mental and physical health problems like depression, sleep disorders, and heart disease. Take action as soon as possible to restore your enthusiasm for your truck driving job and (more importantly) preserve your health.
How to Avoid Truck Driver Burnout
The fact of the matter is that trucking is a demanding job, and most people experience stress at some point during their CDL trucking careers. The good news, though, is that it’s possible to avoid burnout and manage the symptoms. It’s key to address the signs and be proactive in your approach to truck driver burnout. There are ways to get back on track after you start feeling burned out, and it’s even better to avoid the situation altogether if you can.
We recommend the following eight ways to avoid driver burnout:
- Control Your Diet and Exercise – Many truck drivers struggle to maintain physical health on the road, which puts them at higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and physical ailments like arthritis. The job requires lots of sitting, and it can be easy to fall into the habit of grabbing unhealthy snacks. Keep healthy snacks in the cab, and find other nutritional food options on the road. It’s also possible to exercise, especially if you get in the habit of doing quick, regular workouts when you take your breaks.
- Make Time for Hobbies – Don’t feel like you have to give up everything you love about your old lifestyle for your truck driving career. Make it a point to enjoy your favorite pastimes, whether that’s reading, exploring new podcasts, or documenting your journey by writing and taking photos. This also includes staying in touch with your friends, family, and other loved ones. When you take a break on the road, it may make you feel better to connect on a quick phone call or video chat.
- Keep a Regular Schedule – This is one of the most important things truck drivers can do to stay healthy. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule will help your body and mind fight off the effects of stress. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time as much as possible, even when there are other changes in your life.
- Make Yourself Comfortable – This tip applies to both mental and physical comfort. Many drivers like to keep pictures of loved ones or other decorations in their cabs to feel more at home on the road. In terms of physical comfort, ergonomic devices can help you maintain good posture and avoid aches.
- Take Breaks on the Road – Many truck drivers report feeling a lot of time pressure on the road. Some people respond to that by skipping breaks in an effort to get ahead of schedule. The truth is, though, that taking breaks is absolutely critical to long-term success as a truck driver. Stick to your regular breaks to help yourself feel better and more energetic.
- Use Your Vacation Time – Beyond taking small breaks, it’s also important to use your vacation time. This will give you a chance to recharge and focus more on your personal life. Vacation time allows you to spend quality time with family and friends, and the time away will make you feel more ready to return to life on the road.
- Practice Meditation Techniques – There are many ways to take control of your mood with meditation. Some people like mindfulness meditation and breathing techniques, while others like prayer, and still others prefer to simply put on a calming playlist or ambient sounds. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so whatever works best for you is great. Find something that helps you maintain composure, focus yourself, and put your mind at ease.
- Use the Technology at Your Disposal – There’s a lot of technology that can help make life on the road better for truck drivers. Smartphones help us stay connected to our favorite people, even when we’re far away. Beyond that, things like E-logs and ELDs can help you stay on top of your schedule. Make the most out of the tools available to keep yourself from overworking, avoid unwanted interruptions during your breaks, and reduce your stress.
Looking for a Change? Contact Phoenix Trucking Jobs Today!
If you have a Class A driving license and the relevant experience, Duncan & Son Lines, Inc. can connect you with excellent opportunities along the I-10 corridor. We’re family owned and operated, which is reflected in the way we do business. We believe in flexibility and cooperative teamwork, and we pride ourselves on the way we care for our drivers. We connect experienced truck drivers with reliable, respectable opportunities. Contact us today to learn more about our truck driving jobs and how we keep our employees happy and healthy.