Driving long stretches of highway is part of a trucker’s daily routine, but the lack of human interaction or face-to-face contact can wear on you both physically and emotionally.
If you regularly experience feelings of isolation or loneliness while out on the road, know that you aren’t alone. A recent survey conducted by Cigna found that some 43% of Americans “report feeling alone and left out or isolated from other people.” With the rise of social distancing, stay-at-home orders and masking, that number likely is even higher now.
There’s no way to snap your fingers and change decades of established work patterns. And no matter how lonely you are, only so many people can fit inside of a semi cab. Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve your outlook and support your mental health. Here are a few suggestions:
1.) Keep a road journal. If you start feeling lonely, isolated or completely cut off, pull into a rest stop and write about it. While it might sound silly, getting your feelings out on paper can be extremely therapeutic. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. You can write a letter to yourself, draft a list of all the emotions you’re feeling or simply express yourself through symbols and drawings. Set aside at least 10 or 15 minutes for this exercise. Once the time runs out, put your notebook away and get back to work. A little break to express your anxieties can make all the difference.
2.) Make a few playlists of your favorite songs. As a truck driver, you don’t have much say in terms of destination or what you’re transporting. Inevitably, you’ll end up on rarely traveled roads, lonely mountain passes and deserted highways. If the scenery no longer interests you or you feel a low mood coming on, put on one of your favorite playlists. Listening to songs you love can do wonders for the spirit. If you enjoy lyrics, play songs that tell a story or relate to your life. One study, conducted in 2012, found that some people feel emotionally supported and better understood when they listen to songs with applicable lyrics.
3.) Call a friend or family member. Sometimes the only way to combat feelings of loneliness is to get in touch with another human. If you’re on a route where traffic allows, and you have a hands-free phone set-up, get in touch with a friend or family member. Talking about your day, sharing jokes or discussing plans for the future are great ways to pass the time, especially if you’re hours away from the next filling station or rest stop.
How do you combat loneliness when you’re on the road? Would you add anything to this list? If so, visit our Facebook page, leave a comment, and let us know.