Being a truck driver can be an exciting career choice that comes with many freedoms — the thrill of the open road, the picturesque scenery, and endless exploration are just a few examples. As with anything, it also comes with some disadvantages. Truck driving can be demanding and significantly influence your lifestyle, especially if you’re a long haul driver and on the road for a few weeks at a time. Before you know it, your home life, health, and personal relationships are being compromised and neglected. How can you mitigate the ongoing struggle between generating an income and having a life?
Finding a work-life balance isn’t easy, but with a proper framework in place, establishing balance is possible.
Start by asking yourself: Are you living to work, or are you working to live? Hopefully you’ve chosen the latter option, and if so, here are a few suggestions for achieving a better work-life balance while on the road.
Know how to stay entertained.
Regardless of job or industry, humans have a tendency to zone-out and slip into autopilot mode. Focusing on a specific task for hours at a time can become mundane and monotonous. One way to avoid going into autopilot is to keep your mind stimulated. You have an abundance of personal time at your disposal, so use it to entertain and educate yourself.
- Download audio books. There’s motivational, educational, historical, and even page-turning novels.
- Subscribe to satellite radio. Crank up your favorite songs and albums, or tune in to a comedy channel and laugh your way to your destination.
- Download podcasts. There are now podcasts covering every possible topic. Whether you want true crime, trucking news, or fishing, there’s a podcast for it.
How you escape boredom is up to you. The key is to plan ahead and always have something to look forward to.
Don’t forget to exercise.
Sitting in your seat for hours at a time is physically taxing. It can strain your back, neck, as well as your legs. In addition, since you’re idle throughout most of your day, it’s safe to assume that you’re not burning calories or building muscle. Consider doing some research on exercising and stretching for truckers. There are numerous online fitness resources that specifically cater to truckers, providing stretching and exercise routines that are designed to be executed at truck stops. Doing so can radically change your life behind the wheel for the better.
Since exercising releases endorphins (happy hormones!) that work in regulating mood and overall disposition, a healthy body is the first step to a healthier mind. Plus, the more you stretch, the less strain you’ll feel in your back, neck, and legs.
Maintain healthy eating habits.
Truck driver health is a serious concern in the industry right now. “Eating healthier” is easier said than done, especially when you consider the unhealthy temptations that truckers deal with at truck stops. But just because it isn’t easy, doesn’t mean it isn’t manageable. When it comes to trucker-specific material, there are even more online resources available for healthier eating than there are for on-road fitness.
Start your healthier food journey by finding out which meal options are ideal at truck stops. You don’t need to cut out all the foods you love, but focus on getting more of the right foods in your system.
Some suggestions that come to mind are: avoid sugary sodas, drink more water, eat more fiber, eat more veggies, avoid the deep-fried options, and work on portion control. The better you eat, the better you’ll feel.
Communicate with others more often.
Communication is what connects us as human beings. While on the road, consider increasing the communication levels between you and your loved ones, as well as other truck drivers on the road, in order to maintain important connections.
Make an effort to keep others informed. Letting your spouse know where you’ll be at a given time helps decrease the potential disconnect. Being on the road for extra-long periods doesn’t necessarily mean that your family and social relationships need to diminish. Make an effort to stay in touch so you always know what’s going on back home. Staying in the loop will help you maintain a presence at home even though you’re out of town. Plan activities with your family ahead of time, ensuring that you always have something to look forward to.
There’s no secret recipe for a successful work-life balance in the trucking industry. However, the general theme when it comes to achieving this balance seems to revolve around planning ahead. Having a game plan is a solid start to building a framework. Keep yourself stimulated both mentally and physically, don’t neglect your health, and continue to stay involved with those around you. You’ll be surprised with what you can achieve, even from behind the wheel.