How to Avoid Driver Burnout
What is Trucker Burnout?
Trucker burnout occurs when a truck driver becomes exhausted from his job. This exhaustion can be a danger to the driver’s life and the lives of other people on the road. Trucking isn’t just a 9-5 job, it’s a lifestyle and this routine can drain a trucker’s life. The more miles and hours a trucker drives, the more money they’ll make. This can make drivers push themselves to drive even more in order to make as much money they physically can. This cycle could easily turn into a negative one and cause driver burnout. Symptoms of burnout can be physical, mental, and behavioral such as:
- Feeling fatigued, drained; Exhaustion
- Muscle pain, body aches, joint stiffness
- Frequent headaches, and/or migraines
- Change in appetite and/or sleep habits
- Weakened immune system
- Using foods, drugs, or alcohol to cope
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Loss of motivation or strength to do things for yourself
- Withdrawing from responsibilities
- Procrastination, taking longer to do tasks
- Decreased sense of accomplishment
- Feeling trapped and helpless
- Isolation, secluding yourself from others
How to avoid burnout:
Don’t skip out on vacations! The reality is, you can’t afford to not take time away from driving. A nice break is a great way to rejuvenate and come back in a better state of mental health.
Regular Days Off:
Take regular days off every week. Stop for breaks, since it helps prevent fatigue. Being OTR for several weeks at a time is great for the company you work for, but it’s not always in your best interest. So make sure that you have regular time off to spend at home with your family, or however you’d like. If you happen to be OTR for long periods of time, then take a break from your truck on your reset time and do something that’s enjoyable e.g. going for a walk, enjoying a nice meal, taking a nap, stretching, playing video games, visiting local attractions, or whatever boosts your dopamine levels. Any type of physical movement is great since it promotes circulation and blood flow and can help you feel more physically and mentally energized.
Schedule Your Runs:
Try to get yourself onto a scheduled run that has a more predictable, regular schedule so you can get yourself into a habit of a scheduled sleep pattern. This is a better alternative than feeling exhausted, especially when you’re behind the wheel since you could injure yourself and drivers around you. Electronic logs can help you from over-working too. Although most drivers aren’t a fan of them, they’ll force you to rest more regularly and make sure you’re off the road after 70 hours or so. More breaks = more rests= less cause for driver burnout. Utilize electronic logs as your friendly assistant, since the essence behind them is to make sure drivers don’t burn themselves out while working for their company. They can also put drivers on a leveled-out playing field.
Refuel your body and mind:
Drivers are less often focused on making sure they are working at optimal efficiency. This all starts with a healthy diet and exercise. Although this can be challenging to incorporate with a trucker lifestyle, focus on making small, healthier choices. Whenever you have a little downtime, spend those extra few minutes on light exercise and stretching. For your diet, replace high-carb dishes with loaded veggies with protein and fruits. Instead of soda, sugary juices, or energy drinks, replace them with fresh, healthier juices and smoothies. These small changes will add over time and you’ll notice the difference in your energy levels.