Looking after yourself and each other: Physical and Mental Wellbeing
Having good mental health and wellbeing is essential to all of us, in ensuring that we live happy and healthy lives. During these unprecedented times, the majority of us are experiencing added stress and worries, and have had to change our daily routines quite drastically and very suddenly.
It’s already recognised that for a range of reasons, many professional drivers face considerable pressures on their mental health. The Coronavirus pandemic only adds to that, so it’s incredibly important that drivers consider their wellbeing, and that we look after ourselves and one another.
Top tips for your mental and physical wellbeing:
- Set a date and time for a family or friend video chat – Set a time aside for family members or friends to join in on a group chat. It’s a great way to stay in touch and you will get to see their faces as well as hearing their voices. It also means you have something to look forward to in the day. See tips on how to video call to your family using WhatsApp.
- Think – and be – positive – Try to reframe unhelpful thoughts and stay away from negative conversations or discussions on social media, in particular. Share your positive experiences, no matter how small you think they are, with friends, family or colleagues.
- Try to recreate your routine, where possible – Think about what your work routine was before and extract the elements that you could incorporate in to your new routine. If you used to arrive at work at the same time as your colleagues and ask how their evening or weekend was, carry out the same conversation but over the phone or video chat before starting your working day. Share positive stories with one another.
- Keep updated with acts of kindness, or get involved in community volunteering yourself – There has been a fair bit of negativity (around panic buying for example) since the virus outbreak, but there have also been a whole host of acts of kindness around the world that sometimes get overlooked in all the hustle and bustle. Stay in touch with what’s going on in your local area. Facebook may have local support groups in your area set up for the virus, while similar groups have been formed in Canada for example which sparked a trend there known as “caremongering”. Why not have a look on Facebook yourself to see if there are any local groups in your area that are helping elderly and vulnerable groups during this time, too?
- Exercise – Staying physically active improves your mental wellbeing. If you’re confined to a cab, you can do hand stretches, abdominal crunches and even planks if you’re in a sleeper cab. Shoulder shrugs can also be done to relieve stress and tension from your shoulder area when you’re at the lights on a lunch break. When you’re out of the cab, at home or even working from home, there are a whole host of exercises you could do.
- Buy a puzzle or even do some colouring in! It’s important that you keep your brain active and learn new things. Doing any of these activities will also give you some well deserved ‘me’ time, provide a bit of escapism and help to relieve stress.
7. Read – Like the previous point, reading will help you to learn new things and keep your brain active. It could be your favourite novel of all time, or you may want to read something completely new about cooking, fitness, motorcycles, how to learn to knit, a biography… the list goes on! Have a look at Amazon’s current Best Sellers for some inspiration.
8. Write a poem or start a diary – Get your feelings out on paper. Journaling regularly not only helps your mental health by keeping memory sharp and boosting mood, but it’s also thought to benefit physical health through lowering stress levels, blood pressure and improve liver functionality.
9. Turn off, tune in and sing to your heart’s content – It’s great to tune into your favourite radio station, but it might also be worth listening to your favourite CDs or music tracks on your favourite streaming service when you need to escape from constant news headlines. The radio of course will keep you updated with the latest virus developments, but it’s also important to zone out, sometimes.
10. Meditate – Take only a few minutes out of your day to be aware of yourself and be present in the moment. Notice your own thoughts, feelings and understand how you can gain a better perspective. There are some great free Apps available like Headspace and Calm (amongst others) that you can use.
11. Get a good night’s sleep – There are a lot of thoughts circling all of our minds right now, but it’s so important you get a good night’s sleep – for your own physical and mental wellbeing, but also, as a professional driver, reducing driver fatigue that could lead to an accident. Go to bed at a regular time and keep to regular sleeping hours if you can. Before going to sleep, wind down by reading or even writing a to-do list before going to bed. Avoid looking at your mobile (or any other electrical devices) and make your bedroom, or sleeper cab, the place where you sleep (no laptop or TV).
12. Plan for things in the future – You may have had holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, sporting events and more cancelled in recent weeks. Where possible, think about certain events as ‘just postponed’. Use them as future goals and remain positive.
13. Stay healthy – Having to make changes to your lifestyle quickly can certainly impact your routine and also your diet. Try to stick to the healthy, balanced diet you had before, as changing this can impact how you feel. Try not to get into bad habits like, for example, drinking more caffeine than normal, smoking more or drinking more alcohol on your evenings off at home. Think about your active and healthy routine before and work out how you can make slight adjustments to your current working situation to ensure you follow a similar routine. Look after yourself.
Keep talking! Whether it’s through telephone call or video chat when you’re on a break or at the start or end of your shift. The majority of professional drivers are male, and we know that men are slower to seek help about mental health. It’s time now to start talking.
If you are concerned about your own mental health, or are concerned about a friend or colleague, there are many resources out there such as; Mental Health Australia or the Australian Government.
Please note: This blog has been prepared for you by Driver Hire staff. We are not health experts and you should take professional advice if you are struggling with some of the issues discussed here.