The holidays can be a lonely time, especially if you are spending them away from family and friends. However, your experience does not depend on your circumstances. It is what you make of the situation that counts. Here are some creative ways to reduce holiday stress and connect with others while you are on a holiday run.
Over the years, our culture has developed a more flexible attitude toward the holidays. Your Christmas or New Year’s celebrations do not have to look like everyone else’s. That may mean opening presents on a day other than Christmas or waiting until the January shipping lull to get together with family. That is okay. Do what works for your family and have fun with it.
Avoid Overbooking Yourself
Whether you are delivering an extra load for Christmas money or trying to make it to one more Christmas party, it can be tempting to cram your schedule full during the holidays. The overall effect is still the same; pressure, stress, and obligation. Take a step back during this holiday season and listen to your heart. Evaluate what you need to do versus what you feel pressured to do.
Maybe you need to pare down the gift budget. Perhaps you can politely explain to would-be hosts that you and your family are taking a few days to reconnect. The holidays are a time to enjoy each other and realize what you have. Going into debt to buy gifts or overextending yourself to meet social obligations simply increases stress. Take the time to recharge and let the rest go.
Start Saving for Next Year
Many banks offer special holiday savings accounts. Consider opening one if you do not already have a Christmas savings plan. The accounts typically allow you to deposit money throughout the year, but do not allow withdrawals until November or December. Making a small deposit from each paycheck throughout the year helps take financial pressure off during the holiday season.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Truckers do not have a lot of time to do traditional Christmas shopping. Fortunately, many stores offer online savings and free shipping during the holidays. Some offer gift wrapping for free or for a small fee. You can also have items shipped to a spouse, friend, or grandparent for wrapping.
Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart, and Old Navy are among hundreds of stores that offer online shopping. If you are looking for something custom or unique, try shopping Etsy. The handcrafting marketplace connects thousands of independent shops with potential buyers. Since each seller makes their own guarantees, browse through positive and negative feedback for each shop before making a purchase.
One of the best things about giving gifts is seeing the reaction of your loved ones when they open them. Apps like Skype, Facebook Messenger, and FaceTime make it easy to connect while you are on the road. Schedule time during your rest break for gifts. You can even take your wrapped presents in the truck and open them at the same time.
Playing Board Games
Maybe one of your favorite family traditions is playing board games. With a hands-free phone stand and a designated die roller, you can still join in on the fun. While card games may not work this way, classic turn-based board games like Sorry! or Candyland are great ideas for remote play.
If poker, Uno, and other card games are more your style, try finding a game app that allows you to connect with friends through social media. A few of you can gather online to play games. Look for games that have a chat feature or keep your phone on speaker while you play.
Whether they involve folk tales, the Christmas passage from Luke or favorite poems, stories play a big part in family holidays. You can use video chat to read your kids a favorite bedtime story or share a favorite chapter book with them. For your spouse and older children, take turns reading chapters and discussing them. It gives you more to talk about than daily routines and helps you learn to communicate more effectively.
Shift Your Focus
Humans are wired to experience more of what we focus on, whether positive or negative. Instead of concentrating on what you are missing, remind yourself why you do what you do. Trucking is about more than providing for a family. Truckers are the lifeblood of the American economy. Without truck drivers, this country would collapse. The goods and services you deliver support jobs, provide critical medical supplies, and keep America’s industries humming.
Benefits of Gratitude
Another way to beat the holiday depression is to choose thankfulness. According to psychotherapist Amy Morin, practicing gratitude has scientifically proven benefits. She detailed those benefits for Forbes in a November 2014 article.
The benefits of gratitude include:
- More relationships – expressing appreciation to acquaintances encourages them to continue connecting with you.
- Improved health – including “fewer aches and pains” and taking better care of yourself.
- Higher mental strength and health – gratitude decreases depression, increases happiness, and improves mental resilience, even in difficult circumstances.
- Better sleep – as a truck driver, this is a key factor in on-road safety.
- Improved self-esteem – athletes who practice gratitude are more likely to reach their optimal performance level.
- Reduced aggression and higher empathy – letting go of your right to get even means less stress and safer driving.
Morin concludes that developing an “attitude of gratitude” is within everyone’s reach, and an easy way to improve your quality of life.
Connect with Other Drivers
Loneliness often brings thoughts of isolation with it. Try to get to know other drivers. Maybe you can trade stories over the CB or meet up for a holiday meal. Even if you do not know each other well, you all understand the experience of life on the road. Share photos, swap jokes, and enjoy your time together. You could strike up a lifelong friendship.
Being on the road during the holidays does present a unique set of challenges. However, truckers are a resilient group, more than capable of facing any challenge. Prioritize your time, find creative ways to connect with family, cultivate thankfulness, and make new friends. Choosing positive ways to handle your circumstances will improve your holiday season and carry you through the new year. Enjoy the holidays.