Let’s be honest: driving isn’t always the most exciting activity. One stretch of highway looks a lot like another, especially when in the Saskatchewan plains.
It’s easy for your mind to wander when driving. While this may seem a part of the job, boring stretches of road can become a health risk, as you might start to drift off or fall asleep.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be bored while you drive. You can keep your brain occupied during long hauls with the following tips and tricks.
Stay Alert While Driving
The brain needs puzzles and challenges to stay alert. Giving it things to do or figure out is the best way to maintain your mental alertness.
Studies have shown that people who constantly use different parts of their brain (such as cabbies navigating narrow London streets) have a mental health advantage. Here are some things you can do while driving to keep your brain healthy.
- Learn music: Learning music is a great way to keep your brain going. Simply listening to music doesn’t necessarily benefit your brain, but learning the words to a song helps. Memorizing the lyrics to your favorite CD helps to pass the time and occupy your mind.
- Listen to audio books: Audio books keep your mind productive during long stretches of highway. Regardless of genre, an audio book engages your brain and gives you something new to learn, maintaining your mental capabilities. Pick your favorite novelist, or listen to an inspiring biography.
- Follow Talk Shows/Podcasts: Talk shows and informative podcasts stimulate your brain. Whether its sports, politics, home improvement, or psychology, you can find a variety of podcasts to suit your personality. Podcasts can be educational and also give your brain practice with reasoning and problem solving skills. Using these skills regularly will make sure they stay with you into old age.
- Learn a Language: Just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean you have to stop learning. In fact, you would have plenty of time to practice using language-learning software. Learning a language uses a different part of your brain, so it’s excellent for mental health!
- Eat Right: When you snack on a truck, it is better to eat some fruit than Cheetos. Food has a significant impact on your brain and determines mental sharpness. Having food low in saturated fat and high in vitamins or omega-3s is best for your brain.
- Take Regular Breaks: In the push to meet your required hours and reach your destination on time, it can be tempting to drive for long hours on the road without stopping once. However, taking regular breaks can get the blood flowing and refresh your mind. Some experts recommend taking a 15 minute break every 2 hours of driving.
Keeping Mentally Fit While Off the Road
While there is a lot you could do while driving to keep your mental edge, having good habits in general will do a lot to keep you mentally healthy. Mental health, physical health, and emotional health are all related, so addressing one of them will help with the others. Having these good habits off the road will improve your performance on the road.
- Sleep: Getting enough sleep as a truck driver is difficult, especially when you have incentives to push yourself to the limit or do night deliveries. However, getting plenty of sleep ensures your physical and mental health. Deep REM sleep, which happens when you have a full night of sleep, allows your brain to process all the information of the day. This makes it ready to soak up the new information of the next day, and keeps it healthy for a lifetime.
- Exercise: Exercise triggers the release of hormones that are good for your brain, including endorphins. Endorphins help memory and reduce depression. Taking a quick morning walk or lifting a few weights in the back of your truck will keep your body and mind fit and healthy for years to come.
- Dancing: According to a 2012 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, dancing results in a 76 percent reduced chance of dementia.
- Problem Solving Games: When you do get spare time between jobs, fun games help you keep your brain sharp. Crosswords and other puzzle game stretch your mind and give it something to accomplish. Even video games can be effective. Many smartphone apps are specifically designed to exercise your mind, so take the opportunity to challenge yourself.
Take Time for Your Brain Now
When you make time for your brain now, you also increase the time you can enjoy it later. The discipline it requires to have good mental health habits will pay off when you are older, allowing you to enjoy the fruits of a long life of work. Try some of our tips and start taking care of your brain!