Maintaining Your Mental Health as a Truck Driver
The ease at which a trucker's mental health can deteriorate is alarming. Basing my assumptions and framework on the gold standard CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) I will analyze and comment on these working conditions.
To begin, I will grossly oversimplify CBT. Generally, mental health can be conceptualized by three pillars:
Nutrition is a cornerstone of mental health, the old adage “you are what you eat” can attest to this. With a layman's understanding of nutrition, we can look around any truckstop and see walking, talking big macs. I'm speaking of the trucks, of course. To borrow a metaphor from Ms. Minaj, some drivers have a hard time parking their big macs butts in their little garage, or driver seat. With the coercion of the Cinnabons and the convenience of the calories, is it any wonder why there’s an obesity epidemic in America, with truckers being one of the most at-risk demos? Moving on.
Exercise can be challenging for the best of us, and truckers have additional obstacles. Much like people in the office, their job requires stationary/stationery. Yes, paper and pens, as well as inactivity. However, the driver's constant traveling makes a gym membership and routine a little harder. A small investment in a Fitbit of HRM (heart rate monitor) will bring awareness to your activity level. Valuable insight as to what factors may contribute to mental health. I will also include sleep in this section, because that’s vital, as well. Think of this category as the level of activity. We want to balance well rest with bursts of cardio throughout the week.
Finally, the info we choose to consume. It's all too easy to watch the news and stress out. That, combined with shallow entertainment, doesn't add any real value to our life other than to ease boredom and distract from substantive issues in our personal lives and the greater world. We must raise the standards of what we permit into our minds. Consciously selecting the content, as if it were a choice piece of meat or fruit. Being mindful of what we consume mentally and physically, in order to prevent spiraling into unwanted mental states and chemical imbalances. Keep in mind these consumables have been conditioning us for years, so understand it will take slow and steady changes to alter yourself.
I've recently been evaluating my environment through the perspective that actions and behaviors reflect values. With this paradigm, I can look at my own beliefs and infer conclusions. Am I acting in harmony with my chosen values? For example, one of my top values is my time. I want to live a long time with a healthy body, but do my actions reflect that? If not, what does that say about my self-care? Do I feel unworthy of my health and happiness? What would I have to do to care about myself enough to act in that way? Same thing with my financial situation - do I commit the acts of a person that deserves wealth and abundance?
This goes right into the next highly held value I have: relationships. With myself, my spouse, business partners, and society. They all share the same fundamentals: communication, trust, respect, (self-respect especially), and compassion.
When it comes to trucking, maintaining close relationships is very challenging. Having that support system in place can be the difference between life and death in some cases.
When people act in self-destructive ways, or any behavior that contradicts their best interests, it's because part of them wanted to. They are "of two minds," but they have yet to set a coherent orientation. This touches on the unconscienced conditioning from our parents and society, but at some point, we get the opportunity to wake up. To wake up is to take responsivity for everything in your life, and it begins with healing the mind.
Not all perspectives are equal, but they do deserve respect. Some beliefs reflected by our actions/behaviors are more empowering than others. A healed perspective drops limiting beliefs. An integrated mind does not self-sabotage, that's what healing is. We all deserve the love and prosperity we desire. It's time to start acting like it.