Driving through the festive season can be stressful. Here are
ten top tips for looking after your mental health.
1 Take time out for yourself
Short days and low light levels can impact on mod and energy
levels. But don't hibernate in your cab. Instead, plan time away
from your vehicle - meet a colleague for a meal or for a walk.
2 Build virtual bridges
When you are away for long stretches you can feel left out of your
family's Christmas preparations. Use Skype and Facetime to keep in
touch and make a point of discussing the preparations with them
each day. Take advantage of gift-shopping opportunities along the
3 Live in the moment
Don't place yourself under unnecessary pressure when you're away
from home working. Although it's good to keep in touch there's no
point worrying about things at home that are, temporarily, out of
your control. Manage this with simple mindfulness exercises to
focus your mind on the present moment. Learn more at www.bemindful.co.uk
If you have worries that you're struggling to put out of mind,
talking about them will help. You may realise that some of them
aren't so important after all and talking will help you focus on
one or two things that are at the root of your anxiety. It can be
difficult to start these conversations, but try simply asking a
fellow driver or a member of truckstop staff how they are, then
share a worry in return. You may be surprised at how many of your
anxieties are shared by others.
5 Look after yourself
Keeping up a good personal hygiene routine can be difficult on the
road but can also have a very positive impact on mental health. Use
shower facilities at truckstops and service stations and change
your clothes regularly.
6 Limit alcohol, eat well and keep active
Alcohol is a depressant so limit your intake to within safe
guidelines and avoid too much sugary food, which can leave us
lethargic and feeling low. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruit and lean
meat, and drink lots of water in between the occasional festive
indulgence. A brisk 20 minute walk will release endorphins, helping
you feel relaxed and happy, as well as boosting your immune system,
helping you avoid seasonal viruses. At the Pitstop, stock up on
snacking fruit at Draycot Store and try the drivers' outdoors gym.
7 Sleep well
Plenty of good quality sleep is critical for drivers but difficult
to get. For the best sleep possible, avoid using smartphones,
tablets or laptops before bed as the light they emit disrupts your
brain's ability to sleep - try reading or listening to an audiobook
from the Pitstop library instead. Avoid high-caffeine drinks such
as coffee, cola and energy drinks for a few hours before sleep;
caffeine is a stimulant and can stop us sleeping but recent
research has shown that it also resets our body-clock, postponing
our sleep and subsequent wake times. A dark sleeping space is also
important - try travel blackout blinds.
8 Help others
Helping others or performing small acts of kindness is great for
our own mental wellbeing. You could strike up a conversation with a
lonely-looking fellow driver at a rest stop, buy another driver a
coffee, help a broken-down motorist or listen to a colleague's
Christmas anxieties. Try it - you'll feel good!
9 Make Christmas a moveable feast
If you'll be on the road for the official Christmas there's
nothing to stop your family moving Christmas and holding your
celebrations on a date to suit you. And if you are working on the
Christmas or New Year holiday days, why not plan to meet up with
some fellow drivers for a bring-and-share festive picnic?
The simplest mental wellbeing trick of all. Concentrate for a
minute or so on taking slow, steady, deep breaths, emptying your
lungs as much as possible in between each breath. Breathe in for
four counts and out for six, in through your nose, out through your
Last but not least, drive safely and have a merry
Christmas and a happy New Year!