One of the most startling statistics in the trucking industry is the alarming and rising turnover rate. Trucking is hard work, and it’s easy for drivers to feel unappreciated for this work, especially because the internet often paints a picture of just open roads and trucks driving of into the sunset.
The reality of trucking is much less beautiful than what you see on Instagram or Facebook, and most people don’t want to talk about that.
At Legacy, many of our office staff members have experience as former drivers, and our CEO, Isaac, actually started the company out of his first truck. He was a dispatcher, CEO, and trucker all at once!
If anyone knows anything about the effects of hard work, it’s us. These are 5 ways that you can avoid burnout on the road.
Identify when you’re feeling burnt out.
The worst thing you can do when you’re feeling burnt out is ignoring the signs and pushing on regardless. This happens more often than you might think because a lot of drivers are motivated to hustle and get those miles in.
It’s really easy to get caught up in the moment and just keep grinding despite feeling exhausted.
That said, here are a few of the main signs and symptoms of burnout:
- Excessive fatigue
- “Escape fantasies” – fantasizing about “leaving it all behind”
- A sense of undervaluement
As you can tell, these are all serious issues, and should be taken as such. If you’re feeling burned out, it’s important! And so, these are a few tips we recommend to overcome those feelings or prevent them before their onset.
Eat a healthy diet.
They say “you are what you eat”, and that phrase couldn’t be more true.
However, as truckers, we have extra hurdles to navigate when it comes to practicing a healthy diet. When you’re on the road, you don’t always have access to fresh, green salads at truck stops in crossroads of America.
So what do you do?
It’s not really about being perfect, it’s about doing your best. Instead of soda, switching to water.
Sandwiches with vegetables in them, granola bars, beef jerky, dried fruit, and nuts are just a few other examples of healthy foods you can get on the road.
And for the most part, all these foods can live in your backpack or cupholder!
Get good sleep.
Bad sleep is a major symptom of burnout, but it’s also a major cause.
Many truckers are often on the road at night, which makes them already more suscpetibile to exhaustion and fatigue – two leading factors contributing to burnout.
That’s why it’s so important to maintain a regular sleep schedule and stay disciplined about going to bed and waking up at a similar time each and every day.
Sleep is when your body recovers from work, and after a long day (or night) on the road, there’s nothing that your body needs more than 6-9 hours of shut-eye to get you ready to do it all again the next day.
There’s no worse feeling than being overwhelmed and burned out, but if you add exhaustion to the mix, you’re bound to create a cycle of negative emotions and distaste for your work. Sleep is essential, especially for truckers.
Schedule breaks – and take them.
Taking breaks is hard, especially in the hustle and bustle of American culture.
Trucking is no different, especially because in trucking, when you’re not working, you’re likely not getting paid.
But at the same time, the quality of your work matters just as much as how much you work. There are times where you as a driver need to focus on yourself above your paycheck and just take a break.
Whether it’s an hour or two to relax on the road or a week off to hangout with your family, these breaks are what will help you maintain discipline over long periods of time.
At Legacy, we do our best to make sure our drivers are able to be home with their families as much as possible, because we’re a family business, and we realize the crucial importance of being able to spend time with your loved ones as a worker in the shipping industry.
Rediscover your hobbies.
When was the last time you read a book? Played your guitar? Played Madden with your son or your friends? Poker night?
What’s your favorite thing to do off the job?
What we do when we are not working is just as important as what we do when we are. It’s important to work hard, but all work and no rest, play, and recuperation takes us away from what it means to be human.
Drivers are supposed to work hard, and we get it. Our team has been there.
But since we’ve been there, we also understand the importance of taking the time for yourself to do things that you enjoy. That mental reset is incredibly important for maintaining work enthusiasm.
Managing burnout not just about working hard, playing hard, and living life to the fullest. It’s about maintaining your quality of life by using practices that can help your brain recover from the hard work you put in behind the wheel.
Most people never understand how stressful, challenging, and difficult trucking can be, but that doesn’t mean that driver’s struggles should go unnoticed.
You can in fact work smarter and work hard. It starts with knowing your limits.