December can be the toughest month to be on the road. Trucking is a lonely lifestyle, but it may seem especially so during the holiday season.
But there are ways to combat the loneliness, says Dr. Lawrence Levy, licensed psychologist. “What I suggest is taking advantage of technology” such as Skype or cell phones, Levy says. He also suggests more traditional ways of making the distance between loved ones seem smaller.
“Keep a picture taped to your dashboard,” he says. “Keep a picture of daddy or mom at home. Little things like that help you feel connected. If you’re religious, maybe keep a rosary or a cross that was given to you by a loved one.” He says even something that might seem “silly” — keeping the same ornament in the truck and back home — can help.
Levy says fleeting moments of sadness and loneliness are not uncommon, but be aware when they are causing other changes in your health and lifestyle. “Sadness is not a bad thing,” Levy says. “Part of the human experience is the ability to allow yourself to feel unchecked emotions. … The important things [to look out for] are, if you are drinking because you are sad, if your weight changes, if your eating habits change, if your sleep changes, … if you feel a sense of hopelessness or helplessness.”
One of the draws for truckers on the road during the holidays might be emotional eating or overeating. “The first thing is to know why you are eating,” Levy says. “Are you eating because you’re hungry? Or are you eating because you’re depressed or sad? Are you eating to fill a void?” Levy says he’s “not saying guys who like to eat meat and potatoes should change to tofu and salad” but that those who are drawn to emotional eating should simply be honest with themselves.
Levy says exercise can also help improve a bad or sad mood, and the exercise can be as simple as walking around a parking lot. Other suggestions from Levy include carrying an animal with you on the road to relieve loneliness and stress and prayer.
Most important, though, Levy says to hold on to the hope that you will get through the tough time and that you will see your loved ones soon. And remember that Christmas is simply a day on the calendar; the celebrations can always come later.
“There’s nothing that says you can’t plan another meal or get-together,” Levy says. “If you get home on Jan. 6, you could still have a meal then. You could reserve a couple of presents to open then.”
Be sure to visit www.fit4theroad.com for more information on weight loss, healthy recipes, information on health products and more.