Did you know that 43% of all adults suffer from negative health effects brought on by stress? That’s right, you are far from being alone – especially working in a stress-filled industry like truck driving. Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response, and it can be amplified when these changes or demands appear to be greater than our ability to handle them. Our bodies react to this stress with physical, mental, and emotional responses.

Stress can come from trying to meet tight delivery deadlines or dealing with relationships and family issues just to name a few. Not all stress is bad, however.  There are two different kinds: eustress and distress. Our bodies are designed to handle eustress in a productive way, as it stimulates and motivates us to stay alert and ready to avoid danger. This kind of stress comes and goes as we need it.  Distress, on the other hand, is the stress that continues without relief and can evolve into anxiety.

Stress that continues without relief can have damaging effects on your health.  Chronic stress works to suppress our immune, digestive, sleep and reproductive systems, and it does so in different ways for everyone. People under chronic stress are more prone to frequent and severe viral infections, such as the flu or common cold – which is something to seriously consider as the weather gets colder and flu season approaches. Over time, the continued strain that stress puts on your body may contribute to serious health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, as well as mental disorders like depression.

Luckily, there are ways to manage stress both in the short term and the long term.  Sometimes we can feel bombarded by a stressful situation and react in a way that we regret later. To avoid this you can do things like counting to 10 before speaking, taking a few deep breaths, or walking away from a stressful situation and deal with it once you’ve had a chance to calm down. For the long term, it can be helpful to learn how to practice positive self-talk. For instance, instead of thinking to yourself “I hate when this happens” tell yourself “I know how to deal with this; I’ve done it before.” When we can’t control the situation, the best thing we can do is control the way we think and react to it in order to continue down the road to good health!