As we get closer to the New Year, many of us will make resolutions to get fitter, lose weight, stop smoking and drinking amongst other things but, how do you carry on the good work and keep your resolve going?
For me, I try and keep in mind why I made the effort in the first place, be it for health, money or family reasons. I made the decision to try and make good choices that would hopefully benefit me in the long term however, it’s certainly not easy to stick with and see out those initial promises; even more so as a commercial vehicle driver.
As an ex LGV driver I am fully aware that keeping healthy out on the road is not easy with fast food readily available at every motorway services and a limited choice of healthy options, we can easily start to pile on the pounds. I now have the same issue in much different circumstance due to working away from home and living in hotels much of the working week. It’s easy to go back to the hotel, have a meal and a pint then settle down whilst the hardest thing to do is go to the gym or go for a walk or just not have the pint! Is it a lack of willpower or do I deserve the pint at the end of the day? Yes, of course I do, I’ve earned it and what harm could just one pint do? All things in moderation although, most foods we eat have some form of calorific value and if we exceed our recommended daily calorie intake and choose not to burn off the excess then that is when the problem could start.
It is widely accepted that the maximum daily calorie intake for males is around 2500 and for females it is approximately 2000. Seems a lot of calories per day but, how do we keep track of the dreaded calories and the sugar and salt that are also added to the foods we eat.
Going back to my initial thoughts on resolutions and the reasons for giving something up, as commercial vehicle drivers we could have our vocational licence revoked due to ill health, a scary thought and one that would hopefully be motivation enough for people wanting to make a change. So, the question is where do you start and what sort of help is available?
One of the main causes of licence revocations for LGV and PCV drivers in the UK is poor eyesight closely followed by cardiogenic issues and stroke. These conditions alone justify having regular health check ups with your GP or occupational health at your work place. We have to have regular medical examinations as commercial vehicle drivers periodically however, we can develop signs and symptoms of ill health in between medicals that many of us choose to ignore. So, with that in in mind should we know more about staying healthy? The answer has to be yes. So why is our industry still lagging behind when it comes to driver health, safety and wellbeing? There are so many reasons, some valid and some not so but as previously mentioned we now have help available from various sources such as the NHS, DVSA, BHF, Drinkaware, Diabetes UK, MIND to name but a few.
Being in a state of good mental health is also hugely important in any profession however, as a commercial vehicle driver, any poor mental health issues can have a devastating effect on not just you but also other road users. Driving can be a solitary life with lots of time to think about the problems we face on a daily basis, problems and worries we all have from time to time can escalate into major issues very quickly. This time of year in particular becomes hard for many of us for various reasons with money or the lack of it being an issue for many of us.
My first piece of advice would be to open up and talk to someone if you are feeling any form of poor mental health for example, anxiety and depression. Talk to family, friends, work colleagues and your GP. Easier said than done as some of us see opening up and talking about how we feel as a weakness, something that we can deal with alone or hide from.
My second piece of advice would be to listen to someone who is opening up to you or acting if you notice a change in a colleague, simply taking an interest in them could lead to them confiding in you, releasing feelings and ultimately feeling better having spoken to someone who listened. Here at TLCT we can offer help, advice and guidance on all of the topics covered within this article from promoting good mental and physical health to maintaining professional competence and offering solutions to all of these in the workplace.
For drivers we have the Driver CPC accredited Driver Health, Safety and Wellbeing session which covers all of the subjects previously mentioned and more, giving helpful advice and guidance on all of the health issues facing commercial vehicle drivers today.
For Managers, Supervisors and anyone else with a genuine interest in mental health in the workplace we run two sessions. The first being a one day Mental Health Awareness course and the second, a two day Mental Health First Aid course which is designed to help employers spot the signs of poor mental health in the workplace and most importantly, what to do when the signs and symptoms have been recognised.
You can find all the details of the sessions we deliver here on the website however, should you need any further help, information or advice then please feel free to call or email.
As this will be my last post until the New Year, could I take this opportunity to wish you and all our clients old and new a very healthy and prosperous New Year.