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6 Ways to Avoid or Resolve Truck Driver Burn Out
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Driving a commercial truck is a high burn out profession. A truck drivers’ job is very demanding, stressful and isolating. Whether you are aware of it or not, you may be suffering from burn out.

When a driver becomes physically and mentally exhausted, he is at risk for becoming a danger to himself or others on the road when he is behind the wheel.

As an independent owner operator, you know you’re not making money unless you’re on the road. The more you work, the more money you earn. It can become a vicious cycle. Sooner or later, you will start to burnout if you are not careful.

 

Signs of Burn Out

Many owner operators don’t recognize when they are exhausted and starting to burn out. One of the early signs is called “lag and drag”. This is when you have a hard time concentrating on your job. You start wanting to engage in other distracting activities, like watching YouTube videos or playing pinball at a truck stop. You have a hard time forcing yourself to get in the truck. You feel disinterested in driving and feel tired most of the time. You notice that you tend to want to take more frequent breaks and just don’t feel the same enthusiasm that you used to have about your job.

There are a wide variety of indicators that a trucker may be burning out. Here are a few to look for:

  • Feeling tired and drained most of the time
  • Lowered immunity, getting sick a lot
  • Frequent headaches or muscle pain
  • Change in appetite or sleep habits
  • Sense of failure or self-doubt. Feeling helpless, trapped and defeated
  • Detachment, feeling alone in the world
  • Loss of motivation
  • Increasingly cynical and negative outlook
  • Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment
  • Withdrawing from responsibilities
  • Isolation
  • Procrastination
  • Slowing down, taking longer to get things done
  • Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope
  • Taking out your frustrations on others
  • Looking for ways to get out of work
  • Feeling hopeless or depressed

 

6 Strategies to Avoid Trucker Burnout

 

1.      Don’t skip vacations

This is so tempting for owner operators, but, in reality, you can’t afford to NOT take time away from driving. Everyone needs time to rest and renew.

 

2.      Take regular holidays

Use the time off to rest and take a break from the monotony of driving. Taking regular holidays can help prevent fatigue.

 

3.      Create a predictable schedule that includes a regular sleep pattern

Exhaustion leads to burn out. If you’re exhausted, you’re not doing yourself any good. If you are falling asleep at the wheel, you could hurt yourself or someone else on the road.

 

4.      Find a healthy work-home balance

As an owner operator, this can be very difficult. You know that if your rig isn’t rolling, you’re not earning money. However, you will do better in the long run if you find a balance that works with your lifestyle and life circumstances. Some drivers do better if they schedule work on the road for a longer period of time so they can be home for more consecutive days. For others, it may work better to take shorter runs so you can be home more often.

 

5.      Take time away from the truck

You are spending 70 hours per week cooped up in the truck. Take time away from the truck whenever you can. During your breaks, hire a cab and tour the local sites, go to a movie or a game, or do whatever you enjoy that gets you away from the work for a while. Your mental and physical health depend on it.

 

6.      Find a hobby

Pursue a hobby that has nothing to do with truck driving but that you can do from the truck. Doing something completely different will give you a satisfying break from the daily grind of truck driving.

It is imperative that you take care of yourself. You are the owner of your company and are in control of your schedule. Don’t let yourself become exhausted and burned out. Truck driver burn out can be deadly; don’t let yourself get to that point.

Here at AAOO we strongly recommend that you make proactive health pursuits a priority in order to get and stay healthy and avoid costly accidents. We are committed to supporting your efforts to improve your health. AAOO offers a comprehensive, customized health and wellness plan for drivers, as well as other member benefits. Click here to learn more.

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