Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of Stress on Your Delivery Route?
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: Delivery route driving can be stressful.
Sure, there are many positive reasons to become a courier, but that doesn’t mean that your stress levels as a delivery driver are always low.
You have a lot of variety in your day, driving to new places and meeting new people. But if you can’t find the address, you get stuck in traffic, can’t find the package, or you spend too much time backtracking on your route, the stress can build up. And unlike a physical problem, the stress of a delivery driver can’t always be “seen.”
It’s important, then, to keep track of your physical and mental wellness, and take steps to stay healthy as a courier, on the job and away from work.
Do you recognize the 7 early warning signs of stress on your delivery route? Let’s take a look:
It’s true that driving itself can be tiring, particularly if you’re putting in long days. Connections have been found between long hours of daily driving and increased job strain. Which can, in turn, lead to accidents.
While we all experience a particularly long day at work every so often, it’s important to keep an eye out for indications that fatigue is becoming a bigger problem.
Signs that you’re suffering from chronic fatigue include:
- Feeling exhausted on a regular basis
- Being tired, even if you slept well the night before
- Increased irritability
- Difficulty concentrating
If you find you’re suffering from these on a regular basis, it’s time to do something about it.
Chronic fatigue and concentration issues are signs of stress, which is dangerous to your health and can lead to other issues. They are particularly dangerous for a delivery driver on busy roads making quick decisions all day long. You need to focus on your work – and enjoy it.
Here are some tools to help manage fatigue:
- Take breaks during the day, if possible, to give yourself time for rest. That can mean stopping for a few minutes at lunch, when traffic is heavy, and getting out of the vehicle for some fresh air.
- Take steps to reduce your time spent at work and allow for more “me” time.
If you’re a courier for all the right reasons (being your own boss, the joy of driving, exploring the city, and more), then experiencing frustration with your work on a regular basis can be a sign of stress.
Not that one day when things went wrong. Regular irritation during every workday.
The first step to deal with this type of stress is to make your driving and deliveries run more smoothly. One tool that can help is a route planner like Circuit.
It will help you reach all your destinations in the minimum amount of time, using the shortest path. It lets you easily change your schedule by adding, deleting, or re-optimizing multiple stops while on your route. It even has hands-free voice entry to save you even more time.
If driving and delivering are easier and quicker, your frustration levels should be reduced.
Delivery drivers work alone for much of the day. That can be a factor when choosing to be a courier, particularly if you prefer time alone, don’t want a boss who stands over your shoulder, or you get frustrated by co-workers who won’t leave you alone.
But if you’re suddenly feeling isolated, it can be a sign of stress. Maybe you’re feeling unsure about your abilities, or you simply want somebody to talk to who understands your work.
Here are a few tips for handling isolation:
- If you work for a company then you have colleagues who do what you do. Reach out to other drivers and see if they want to get together once a month for coffee, lunch, or supper. Building a support network can help with feelings of isolation.
- If you work for yourself, look to other sources to build community. Driver groups on Facebook or other online communities is one example. There may be other online or local forums where you can communicate with peers who understand your work.
- Talk to your partner or a close friend who will serve as a sounding board and allow you to talk about your work.
A sudden change in weight can be a sign of stress on your delivery route. When it comes to being a driver, weight gain can be a problem, since you sit behind a wheel for much of the day. Even courier drop-offs may not be enough to help, and added weight can lead to other health problems.
There are a few suggestions to help. One is regular exercise, which can combat stress, help you sleep, and create positive change when it comes to managing weight. Plan your route to allow for time before or after work, or at lunch, when even a brisk walk will help. On days off, plan longer exercise sessions.
Another problem can be eating properly when you’re a delivery driver. Frequent meals from fast food restaurants can cause a number of health problems, including weight gain. Make your own meals to take along as much as you can.
Changes in Mood
If you’ve noticed you’re quick to anger, get road rage, or get frustrated easily at home, those sudden changes of mood could be a sign of underlying tension. And those emotions could interfere with safe driving, becoming an issue for you and others on the road.
As with other signs of stress, relaxation techniques can be helpful. Take note of when you feel angry or irritated, and practice meditation or deep breathing. Play music while you drive, or listen to podcasts that you enjoy. Tobacco, excess caffeine, and alcohol can all make matters worse. And as with other signs of stress, if your moods don’t improve, then seek help.
Another sign of stress is having trouble sleeping, even when you go to bed tired. We all have a bad night’s sleep once in a while, but if it’s happening on a regular basis, you need to pay attention.
Lack of sleep can lead to reduced focus and eventually be an issue when you’re on the road.
Here are a few tips to help ensure you get a good night’s sleep:
Take time to relax, particularly before going to bed. Even if you only have 15 minutes, try listening to a podcast, or read a book or magazine that’s enjoyable.
Try a natural sleep aid like a cup of chamomile tea, which is said to have a calming effect that promotes relaxation and sleep.
If you worry about work when you get to bed, plan your route at the end of the work day. You won’t have to spend the night worrying and you’ll be ready to go first thing.
Stress can lead to issues with your gastrointestinal system, including upset stomach, diarrhea, or constipation. Some problems can be caused by sitting for long periods of time, eating fatty or greasy food, or consuming a specific food that bothers your stomach, like coffee.
If you keep track of what you’re eating and it doesn’t seem to matter what you eat, then you may need to see your doctor. It can be embarrassing to discuss, but bowel health is important. Irritable bowels can be the result of a larger health issue so it’s important to deal with it.
Driving It Home
Every profession has its share of stress. Delivery driving has some unique challenges that can build up and lead to tension, worry, and even anxiety. Stress is a normal reaction and what’s important is how you deal with that tension.
Watch for these early warning signs of stress. If you’re suffering from even one and it isn’t getting better, then it’s time to get help. Don’t wait for it to get worse. Seek medical attention and ask for assistance, since health is your top priority.
By knowing what to look for, you can look after yourself and others when you’re on the road, and when your driving day is over.