Our roads are getting more and more congested; they’re struggling to cope with the ever increasing number of cars, vans and lorries causing congestion and traffic jams. Then there’s the bumps and potholes that don’t seem to be getting any better. No wonder stress and frustration is rising among poor motorists trying to get from A to B – particularly in the case of van delivery drivers trying to make a living.
According to government statistics, van traffic is one of the fastest growing vehicle sectors driven on UK roads for the last four years. Van drivers have been racking up a record 50 billion miles between them, so there are likely to be quite a number of these drivers suffering from stress on a daily basis.
But what can you do to help you get through your driving day without ending up in a tired, stress-heaped and full of tension at the end of it? Quite a lot actually – take a look at these 6 tips and feel the difference.
1. Take regular breaks from driving
It’s actually quite tiring sitting in one position for long stretches at a time. We suggest that you pull over; it’s recommended that you should plan a 15-minute break every couple of hours. But don’t just sit behind your wheel and read the newspaper. Get out, stretch your legs, get a cuppa and take the opportunity for a comfort break. To really feel the physical and mental benefits of a short stop, you need to change your environment and stretch those muscles.
2. Do a few gentle exercises
Not only will exercise help to combat weight gain and keep you fit, but a major problem for long distance commercial drivers, it has also been linked with helping to relieve stress. While it might be impractical for you to fit in a full running session or go to the gym during your working day, there are a few exercises that you can do even without stepping outside the vehicle. Take a look at this guide for five exercises you can do in your van that has some handy suggestions for getting a bit of a workout while you are on the road.
3. Rise above the frustration
Easier said than done but try not to let your frustration get the better of you. The longer you are on the road the more frustrating it is likely to be. When someone does something stupid that holds you up or causes you to waste time, it’s easy for road rage to set in. Unfortunately, reacting to bad driving with rage is also going to make your stress levels go through the roof. If you can, try to think positive thoughts about the offending driver or pedestrian, it will help you to stay calm and rise above their bad driving, leaving you with a warm glow rather than all heated up and ready to scream.
4. Avoid muscle strains
Many van drivers, by the very nature of the job, are prone to aches and strains; this is especially true in the case of delivery drivers. Not only are you likely to suffer from repetitive strain injury caused by long hours at the wheel which can result in leg and/or foot cramps, you may start to suffer from back ache and a stiff neck as a direct result of sitting for hours with bad posture.
Then there’s the risk of injury from lifting heavy and awkward items in and out of the van. If you are suffering from discomfort because of muscle strain, then you’re bound to be feeling tense and stressful. To avoid these types of strain, try to ensure that you have the best possible driving posture, adjusting your seat, mirrors and steering column if necessary to ward off unnecessary issues. Flexing and stretching exercises during your driving breaks can help. If your job involves lots of heavy lifting, make sure you have the correct handling procedures in place to avoid the likelihood of injury.
5. Make sure you have everything covered
There’s nothing more stressful than nagging doubt and worrying about whether you have the right kind of insurance cover for your van and the goods that you are carrying. The best way to avoid this type of stress when looking around for your insurance quote is to get a comprehensive quote that covers you, your van and anything that you carry in your van that is valuable. Goods in transit van insurance is available from comparison websites, so make sure that if you carry lots of tools in your van related to your business or work as a courier delivering products to customers, then financial coverage for any loss of these items must be part of your business insurance.
6. Give yourself plenty of time
Easier said than done these days, but starting a journey early can help prevent stress building up while allowing extra time for unpredictable hold-ups means you should have less anxiety if you are held up. Should you be lucky enough to have a trouble free journey, you can afford to take a longer break or even add in an extra break to lighten your day. It also pays to plan ahead as much as possible, know your route and have an alternative, just in case of unforeseen traffic hold-ups.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He writes for the American Psychological Association and has a weekly column for Free Malaysia Today.