It’s wintertime, so many of us are currently dealing with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – a type of temporary depression caused by a lack of vitamin D, resulting from fewer hours of sunlight and dreary weather. If you drive OTR, then this effect may be compounded for you, considering the nature of the job.
There’s a lot to like about trucking. In fact, if you’re an optimistic introvert who loves to travel, long-haul truck driving may actually be the ideal job for you. However, outside of that niche group, most humans are social creatures, and the effects of isolation can be very detrimental to us. Studies have shown that loneliness, and the depression that often accompanies it, can have negative effects on not only mental health but also physical well-being.
Because of this, we thought it might be useful to put together a brief list of proven ways to combat loneliness while on the road. You may be familiar with some of these, but it can be good to have a refresher.
The first and most important thing you can do when you are feeling lonely is to acknowledge it. Not only acknowledge it, but also realize that there is nothing wrong with feeling this way. It’s important to understand that there are many other people that share your experience. A lot of us have a habit of taking negative feelings and just burying them deep inside rather than dealing with them. When you don’t acknowledge your feelings, you give up any chance of doing something about them. Being honest with yourself about how you feel and what impact that is having on you is essential to improving your situation.
Social Media Consumption
Like most things, social media can be a good or a bad thing. When you’re away from loved ones, it’s a great way to stay in touch and feel connected. However, comparing yourself to others and mindlessly scrolling for long periods of time can actually exacerbate loneliness. We’ve all been there before – you open up your favorite app without even realizing it, and before you know it, hours have gone by.
If you notice yourself falling into this habit, it can be helpful to take a break from social media for 1-2 days. Replace it with activities that you do deliberately that can help you to be present, like reading a book or doing a crossword puzzle. After some time off, you will notice your mood start to elevate. Once you decide to return to social media, make sure to do so consciously. It can be helpful to set a time limit for yourself.
We all know that we’re supposed to exercise, but it can be difficult to find the motivation even under ideal conditions. Being out on the road makes it even more challenging – you don’t have the luxury of a neighborhood gym with nice equipment. Instead, you have to create your own gym in your truck, rest area, or at a shipper/consignee. Although it can be difficult to get started, the benefits are more than worth it. When you exercise, your body produces endorphins and dopamine, which are commonly referred to as “happy hormones”. It doesn’t have to be a complex hour-long workout. A 5-10 minute brisk walk or some simple bodyweight exercises inside your truck are more than enough.
Journaling and Reflecting
Journaling can be a great outlet when you are feeling lonely. Whether it’s in a physical journal, the notes app on your phone, or even just a scrap of paper – getting your thoughts and feelings down has a very therapeutic effect. You can write about almost anything. Not only does journaling occupy your mind, but if something is bothering you, writing it down tends to provide a sort of release. As though you no longer have to carry it around with you.
Gratitude journaling has gained a lot of popularity recently. As the name suggests, every day you simply think of things for which you are grateful and write them down. The idea is that as you continually reflect on all the positive things in your life, you will start to appreciate things more and have a more positive outlook. We can attest that this one really does work.
Try Something New
A great way to combat feelings of loneliness is to try something new or create something. Get creative! Try something you’ve never done before. Maybe something that you have always wanted to do but never got around to it. This is a great way to step out of your comfort zone, which is sure to keep you present. Not only is this an opportunity to challenge and express yourself, but it also helps create a shift from mindless consumption to active engagement. Which has been shown to elevate mood.
Practicing acceptance is liberating – when you begin to accept things as they are, rather than how you think they should be, a huge weight is lifted off your shoulders. Practicing acceptance does not mean giving up on your hopes or aspirations, but rather shifting your focus from things you cannot change, to things you can.
Put it into Practice
We hope that this article has given you some ideas. If you have previously tried some of these activities but stopped, then hopefully it has given you some motivation to start back up. In our experience, the best results come from the consistent application of more than one of these. And if all else fails, get yourself a happy light.
What do you think of our list? Do you use any of these techniques yourself? Are there any good ones you think we left out? Let us know! And if you’re interested in learning what sets ShipEX apart from other companies click here.