Knowing how to run a successful trucking company includes knowing how to cope with stress. This is a crucial skill for owner-operators. They have all the challenges that company drivers face, on top of worries like making truck payments, covering operating expenses, and finding clients. Pressures like these can lead to headaches, ulcers, high blood pressure, back pain, and a host of other health problems.

The good news is that stress can be controlled. The key is knowing how to manage it so it doesn’t take over your life. So let’s take a look at what stress is and how it affects your body.

Way Back During Caveman Days…

In prehistoric times, everything depended on a mixture of speed, skill with primitive weapons, and sheer luck. To cope with the rigors of this kind of life, humans developed a “fight or flight” instinct. Running across a hungry tiger or a band of rival hunters triggered a switch in the brain that set a person’s nerves on edge instantly, so that he or she could respond by either running away or charging into battle.  This drive saved many lives.

Fast forward to modern times. Most of us don’t hunt for a living anymore, and fewer still are threatened by roaming tigers or hostile cavemen, but we still have that fight or flight instinct. Nowadays, though, it is triggered by things like financial pressures, disagreements with family members, or trouble at work, but the body still reacts as if our lives were threatened.  Blood pressure increases, heart rate goes up, and muscles tense.

However, unlike prehistoric times, our troubles don’t go away when we find food or outrun the beast that’s trying to eat us. Modern problems linger, keeping our bodies and minds tensed up. This can lead to serious long-term problems:

  • Back, neck, and head pain from tight muscles
  • Damage to the heart from high blood pressure
  • Anger and irritability that damages our relationships with others, including our customers
  • Anxiety, depression, and pent-up rage
  • Drinking or other substance abuse problems
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain from eating to calm our nerves
  • Strokes, heart disease, and early death

As you can see, stress is no laughing matter.  Fortunately, there are ways to cope with it:

  • Having a daily wind-down time, during which you relax your muscles and keep thoughts from entering your mind.  15 minutes a day or so of this kind of relaxation can do wonders for your mental and physical health.
  • Exercising.  This can be as simple as a pleasant walk or a few pushups and sit-ups.  Even long-haul truckers can usually find the time and place for these sorts of physical activities.
  • Cutting down on caffeine, tobacco, and junk food
  • Finding someone to talk to who cares and is willing to listen
  • Remembering that no problem lasts forever

One thing that can cause stress is not having the right trucking management software. Trying to keep track of invoices, dispatches, IFTA taxes, maintenance logs, and more by yourself is overwhelming. That’s why we offer TruckingOffice free for the first 30 days.  Take it for a test drive; no credit card or checking account information is required.  After you’ve used it for a while, you’ll be amazed how much it reduces the stress of your job.