8 Ways to Maintain Work-Life Balance as a Truck Driver
Being a truck driver can be an exciting career choice that comes with many freedoms — the thrill of the open road, exploring the country, and work autonomy. But truck driving can be demanding and significantly influence your lifestyle—including your home life, health, and personal relationships. So how can you manage the ongoing struggle between generating an income and having a life?
Finding a work-life balance can be challenging, doing so will make both work and life more rewarding.
Here are eight ways to improve a trucker’s driving-life balance on the road.
1. Find ways to stay entertained
Focusing on a specific task, like truck driving, for hours at a time can become mundane and monotonous. Avoid going into autopilot by keeping your mind stimulated while you’re on the road.
Use your drive time to entertain and educate yourself with these tips:
- Download audio books. You can choose from motivational, educational, historical, and even page-turning novels on streaming audio. Access thousands of titles through subscriptions on Amazon or for free through your local library app.
- Find your favorite streaming music stations. There are both paid and free options that offer music, comedy, and much more to keep you entertained. Use apps like Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, and more to find stations you enjoy.
- Listen to podcasts. You can take this opportunity to learn more about the trucking industry and how to improve your business on industry specific podcasts. You can also subscribe to a podcast series for news, sports, or any other topic that interests you.
How you escape boredom is up to you. The key is to plan ahead so you have something to look forward to while you drive.
2. Learn a hobby that’s portable
It’s important to focus on hobbies and activities you enjoy to keep yourself mentally healthy. Capture your journeys through photography, learn a new language, or use your breaks and stops as a chance to journal or chronicle your time away. Regardless of what you choose, make it a point to find an outlet to keep your brain stimulated.
3. Plan your routes with balance in mind
Planning your route (and sticking to it) helps lower your stress and improve your work-life balance. Consider incorporating restaurants or landmarks you want to visit on your trip, even if it’s a little out of the way. Taking time to knock off items on your bucket list will make the drive more enjoyable—and memorable.
4. Don’t forget to exercise
Sitting in your seat for hours at a time is physically taxing. It can strain your body and since you’re idle throughout most of your day, it’s safe to assume that you’re not burning calories or building muscle.
Here are a fitness apps specifically designed for truckers:
- Iron Trucker: Designed for truckers, by truckers to stay in shape while on the road.
- SCFit: Learn how to start exercising, eat healthier, and achieve your fitness goals on the road.
- Rolling Strong: Take a look at your comprehensive health and tap into helpful resources to improve it.
Exercising regularly improves your mood and overall disposition, and 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.
5. Maintain healthy eating habits
Eating healthy on the road is easier said than done. But if you plan ahead, it can be manageable. When it comes to trucker-specific meal-planning, there are even online resources available.
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. Even taking small steps to drink more water, avoid sugary sodas and snacks, and monitor portion control will help you eat (and feel) better on the road.
6. Create a cozy sleeping cabin
Getting adequate sleep is critical for a truck driver while on the road. Not only does it improve your overall mood, physical, and mental health, but it also increases your awareness and reaction time while driving.
The best way to ensure you’re getting quality sleep is to create a cozy sleeping cabin that addresses any challenges that could keep you from a good night’s rest.
Focus on these areas to get the best sleep:
- Minimize distractions like light and sound. Purchase a visor shade for your windshield and covers for the additional windows. If you’re unable to park in a remote (and safe) place, a white noise machine can be helpful to drown out outside sounds.
- Invest in a high quality pillow, mattress, and bedding. Spending more on your sleep environment can pay off big when it comes to your health in the long run. Buy a mattress and bedding that will help you sleep soundly and comfortably.
- Unwind without a screen. Catching up on social media or the news may sound like a great way to unwind, but it’s really keeping your brain stimulated and awake. The blue light from your phone can affect your internal clock and your sleep patterns. Try reading a book, going for a walk, or calling family or friends to decompress before bed.
7. 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 where you are and how you’re feeling. 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.
8. Make your schedule work for you
Don’t miss important dates with family and friends if you can avoid it. These are memories you can’t get back. Try to plan your drive schedule around special occasions (like children’s birthday parties, anniversaries, and vacations).
This time away from your job makes you a better employee and keeps you more focused when you’re at work. Be sure to communicate any work schedule conflicts early and often with your supervisor so they can help plan accordingly.
Work-life balance should be a priority
There’s no magic formula to achieving a healthy work-life balance in the trucking industry. However, being aware of what you need, and planning ahead for each trip, will help you set a solid foundation. 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.