In support of Mental Health Awareness Week running between 13-19 May, Teletrac Navman is introducing its calendar guide to how drivers can improve their mental health in just 30 days. Peter Millichap, UK marketing director at the firm, explains further.
In the Transport industry, driver safety is always at the forefront of our minds, but that doesn’t just mean physical safety, it’s having a safe mental state as well.
Drivers and lone workers spend up to 40+ hours per week by themselves, but just because they’re lone doesn’t mean they should be alone. There is so much that a company can do to motivate, encourage and include their drivers, and there are also some small steps that drivers can make themselves.
- Call someone you love
Your partner, your parents, children or best friend. Being a driver can be a lonely job, so take the time to reach out to those you love for a quick catch up. 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes – their familiar voice will boost your mood and make you feel more connected.
- Bring something from home with you
Anything from a family photo or your favourite cushion, having a little home comfort can make you feel much closer to home even when you’re further than you think.
- Take regular stops
Get out, stretch, breathe in some fresh air.
- Stick to a routine
Simply eating breakfast each morning before you leave can help give your working day some much needed structure.
- Make a playlist
Singing in your car can be a huge stress reliever!
It might sound silly, but when it feels like the stress of your daily drive is getting too much, take some long, deep breaths. Spend a few minutes doing this, being in control of your breathing will make you feel back in control of your day.
- Choose a healthy lunch
It’s easy to fall into the rut of McDonalds monopoly, but a good diet is more than good for your health, it’s good for your mental state.
- Write a poem
Sometimes it’s easier to express our emotions by writing them down.
- Smile, be friendly
We’ve all had our moments when we just don’t want to talk to anyone at all, but being polite and smiling with your morning Barista can help give both of you a little positive boost for the day.
- Wind the windows down
Let some fresh air in and cool off.
- Make a scrapbook or a scrapbox
Take all the little things you’ve collected over the years that hold value, then put them in a book or a box. Keep it with you whilst you’re driving and when you’re feeling low, take a look at all the items and remember your favourite moments.
- Do something for someone else
If the little things mean the most to you, then do something little for someone else. Their appreciation will make your day and their smile will be all thanks to you.
- Walk it off
Taking a short walk still counts as exercise!
- Be proud
Think of something you’re so grateful for in life, something you’ve worked hard for and achieved, your family, a goal you’ve reached. Remember how strong you can be and what you can accomplish.
- Make a list
A “To-Do” list can help prioritise your plans and give some order to everyday tasks.
- Stop off for a cuppa
Find a café and sit down, change your scenery for at least 5 minutes and take some me-time.
- Draw a picture
Unleash your inner da Vinci and draw what you feel. You can be as artistic as you like or as basic, but let your creativity run free.
- Learn a new language
Although it’s tough and will require a lot of practice, imagine how great you’ll feel on your next holiday being able to speak to the locals!
- Open up to someone
If there’s something troubling you, say it. Get it off your chest and be honest – you might feel so much better saying it out loud.
- Colour in
It’s not just for children! Making something look pretty and concentrating on your design can help channel your inner creativity and relax your mind.
- Invest in a water bottle
Ramp up your daily water intake to the recommended 2 litres per day by topping up a reusable water bottle. The extra hydration will make a big difference to your health, but will also make you feel less tired or lethargic.
- A lot.
Each time we laugh our brains release dopamine, a chemical that makes us feel happy. Try to giggle at the little things and find humour, it’s amazing how laughter can completely diffuse a tough situation.
- Turn your phone off when you don’t need it
Don’t just put it on silent or switch to night mode, actually turn it off. Some peace and quiet can go a long way.
- Say “no” and don’t feel bad about it
Just because someone asks you to do something doesn’t mean you always have to say yes. Taking on too much through worry of letting people down can mean you’re overworked and overstressed. Do what’s right for you and only take on what you can physically do.
- Read a book
Some people say that reading a book lets you travel the world without leaving your chair, let’s try it without leaving our cab!
- Try writing your thoughts down
Vent your frustrations and have a go at physically writing down your thoughts, feelings or ideas. It doesn’t need to be too lengthy, just take a few minutes to jot them down – it can be really helpful if you want to keep track of changes in your mood.
- Do a good deed
Even if it’s something as small as letting someone out of a junction, one good deed has the potential to stretch a lot further than you think, and you’ll feel great for doing it!
- Have a social media detox day
Remember that social media is not always an accurate depiction of real life. Your real life is right in front of you and is ready for you to shape it. Concentrate on your lifestyle and what you want, not what’s going to get the most likes.
- Reach out to a long lost friend
Lose touch with your high school best friend? Get in touch with them and reconnect, then you can swap stories and see how much you have in common.
- Do something you love everyday
Spending your days on the roads non stop can start to grind you down, and the repetition can get to you more than you think. So, make the conscious effort to do at least one thing you love, everyday. It doesn’t matter how small it may seem, it will make a big difference.
And there we have it, a list of small but impactful changes you can make to improve your mental health in just 30 days.
Not only between 13-19 May. but every day and every chance we can, let’s encourage our colleagues, peers, drivers and lone workers to remove the stigma around mental health.
For further information on mental health support, please visit https://www.mentalhealth-uk.org/