Working odd hours, sleeping in uncomfortable surroundings, being away from home for weeks at a time. Driving a truck can be stressful.

Add to that being stuck in traffic, dealing with other careless road users, poor wages, and regularly being ignored or shouted at – it’s not hard to see why truck driver stress and depression is a big thing right now.

However, there are a number of things that truck drivers can do to banish anxiety while driving.

Here are five ways to reduce truck driver stress and get you on the road to stress-free living (and driving)…

1 Work out what makes you tick

The first step in managing stress is greater self-awareness of what causes these feelings of anxiety and stress in the first place. Identifying the triggers and then knowing what steps to take to manage those emotions takes time, but can be invaluable in the long run. If you can spot the symptoms of stress before they get out of control, you’ll always be one step ahead.

2 Learn to be a better communicator

Effective communication is crucial in the haulage industry, but at times dialogues between drivers and shippers and dispatchers can increase stress. Drivers need to trust that a dispatcher is doing everything they can to get them from A to B as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible.

3 Think healthy

Diet can have a big impact on stress levels – the more healthily you eat, the less stressed you will feel. Exercise is also important to counter-balance all those hours spent behind the wheel. It doesn’t have to be much – a bit of stretching and a five-minute walk can help clear your mind.

4 Turn it up!

Listening to music, an audio book or podcast is a great way to keep your mind off the stresses of the job. Your favourite tunes, an interesting story or a thought-provoking podcast will help you get through stressful situations (and you might even learn a thing or two along the way).

5 Plan your route

Pre-route your hauls with dispatch so you know where you will be at what times, and plan breaks accordingly. Fleet management can help you beat traffic and adjust driving habits when needed (e.g. when weather impacts a journey). A good GPS or smartphone are also helpful planning tools.

When it comes to driving a truck, feeling stressed doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of the job. Deal with driving anxiety symptoms before they become overwhelming and find the best ways to overcome stress for you.