Experienced NTB drivers are kind of like superheroes. While they don’t wear capes, they always need to be aware of their surroundings and to know how to handle unexpected circumstances. That being said, even a superhero truck driver can get into a situation that gets the heart racing and the brain going into fight or flight mode.
How does a person behind the wheel of a truck maneuvering up to 80,000 pounds of weight manage that primal acute stress response? Read on as we offer a few methods to quickly get that heart rate down and the mind focused on the task at hand.
Take Note of Your Breathing
First and foremost, when you are in the middle of a tense moment, remember to breathe. Make it a priority to get your breathing as normal as possible. Take a breath as deep as you can, filling your belly first and extending to the upper parts of your lungs, in through your nose. Then, just as importantly, let all of that air out through your mouth. Getting a good breathing rhythm, even just two or three complete breaths, can help relieve tension and make it possible to focus.
Breathing deep and rhythmically will help relax the muscles that tense up when things get dicey. With each outward breath, let your shoulders drop and relax. Keeping your muscles from tightening will help you to respond in a smooth manner rather than the jerky movements caused by a rigid body.
Stay Focused and Positive
A truck driver has one main goal—to drive each mile as safely as the last. Staying focused on the task ahead even when the mind wants to shut off or take flight can help get through those moments. No one likes to be told to calm down, but if you can remind yourself to stay calm, it will be a crucial step toward safety. Keeping a positive attitude throughout your day, and recognizing that sometimes things happen that you can’t control, will help keep that focus.
Be Ready for Your Day
Making sure you are physically and mentally ready each day before you start your drive can help mitigate feeling jumpy or agitated when things aren’t going quite right. Being well rested, well hydrated, and eating a healthy diet are steps you can take that can help your body and mind during a stressful situation. Exercising regularly also plays a big part in ensuring your body can fight stress. Planning and time management are also important in making sure you’re ready for whatever the day brings you.
Sometimes a challenging experience is over in the blink of an eye, such as when getting cut off by another driver. Other times, like when the weather changes and roads get icy, an incident can last hours before it's over. Knowing techniques that can not only prepare you for unexpected stress but also help bring your mind and body back to a more normal state, is key for getting through trying times.
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