Chronic Work Stress

Everyone experiences stress. In fact, more than one out of three people in America who work experience chronic stress or stress that is experienced for a prolonged period of time. Stress is triggered by a belief or a thought that you are in danger. Stress is an everyday occurrence when working in the truck driving industry.

Beating the Invincibility Belief

When you were young you probably thought you were invincible. Nothing could touch you. In some respects that is still true today. Truckers work a 60-hour work weeks with no work/home balance. You’re stretched so thin with extra obligations, deadlines, trying to advance your career, and trying to make ends meet that there’s no time to relax. This is the invincibility belief. However, we are not invincible. We get sick, in some cases we get really sick. We burn out and are vulnerable. Stress is responsible for 75 to 90 percent of all doctor visits each year and contributes to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and autoimmune diseases.

Short-term Versus Long-term Stress

Short-term working in a stressful environment can cause stomach aches, sleep issues, short temper, headaches, and difficulty concentrating.

Chronic stress can cause anxiety, high blood pressure, inability to sleep, and a weakened immune system. Typically if you experience chronic stress you often deal with other unhealthy habits such as overeating, smoking, abusing drugs or alcohol, and eating unhealthy foods.

There are 3 steps to help manage your stress but you need each one to help cope. You need to focus on your physical health, mental health, and your sense of purpose. Listed below are each of the 3 in detail.

Step 1: De-stress Your Body

We focus too much on our body’s stressors rather than how to de-stress our body. This causes an acceleration in the aging process, a weakened immune system, and depression. To get rid of stress you need to move, eat right, and get sleep. Here are those three things broken down for a closer look:

  1. Eat whole foods. Eating foods that have been processed can make you feel anxious. Try to eat whole foods such as fruits and vegetables.
  2. Exercise regularly. Exercise releases hormones in your body that make you feel good. When you start to feel stressed, get up and move around. Stretch, run in place, walk around, anything to get your blood moving. This will turn off the stress response. Also try and take several deep breaths to trigger your relaxation response.
  3. Get enough sleep. Being stressed at work is magnified when you don’t get enough sleep the night before. Try to get 8 hours of sleep each night. Sleeping enough will help you solve problems and boost your intelligence.

Step 2: De-stress your Mind

  1. Cultivate gratitude. Things will go wrong every day…it is inevitable. But instead of focusing on those bad things, focus on the good things. Try to write down or list 3 things at the end of each day that you are grateful for.
  2. Meditate. Try to meditate for 5 minutes each day. This will help lower blood pressure and help you think more clearly.
  3. Say “no.” It is ok to say “no.” There needs to be a good balance between work and home life.

Step 3: Don’t Lose Sight of Your Purpose

  1. Schedule social time. Make sure to schedule some time with friends and family to just hang out and enjoy their company. Make sure to disengage from work and turn off your phone.
  2. Get creative. It’s important to use the creative part of your brain. Write a letter, or make a new recipe.
  3. Get spiritual. When we are overworked and chronically stressed we often overlook the bigger picture.

We cannot eliminate stress but we can help to relieve it. Try to do each of these things every day to improve your quality of life.

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