Why the mental health of van drivers matters this Christmas
2020 has been a very strange year so far, and despite the recent news about a Covid-19 vaccine potentially on the way, the entire situation has still been taking a heavy toll on the population at large. The emotional impact is especially prevalent in the people tasked with people keeping the UK moving – the key workers including medical staff, supermarket workers, and of course van drivers.
Right now, the nation’s van community is working harder than ever to deliver more supplies and groceries and essential goods. And with a huge proportion of the UK’s van drivers being classed as essential workers, there’s a good chance that if you’ve ever been on the hunt for the cheap van deals, you’re feeling the strain right now. Below we’ve covered a bit of research from FleetNews that shows the extent of the issue, and explored a few basic ways that van drivers and fleet measures can tackle it.
Winter challenges on multiple fronts
We’ve long known that the festive season brings its own raft of challenges for van drivers every year, but this year they’re coupled with the significant tolls of the coronavirus crisis. While almost everyone has seen their lives change to a dramatic degree, van drivers not only have to cope with the same restrictions and general anxiety as everyone else, but also the effects on their jobs due to the spike in online shopping.
The pandemic means that the average driver’s working week has been increased by almost five hours, which equates to about 20 extra hours per month. That’s compromised the work life balance of one in three members of the van community, and now almost 40% say that their mental wellbeing is their biggest concern. (More so, in fact, than their physical health.)
Then of course, all this is in addition to the normal seasonal challenges van drivers must cope with. Almost 85% of van drivers feel more tired in the autumn and winter in comparison to the summer, and almost half admit that they suffer from lower mood in the darker and chillier winter months. On a related note, Seasonal Affective Disorder continues to be a problem for many.
And on top of all that, virtually all members of the van community (95%, according to the estimate in FleetNews) feel responsible for making sure that the festive period goes smoothly for everyone. Around 100 million extra parcels are typically delivered during December, and this year poses more logistical challenges than ever before.
It all combines to make a particularly potent cocktail of issues for van drivers, especially given that more than half of van drivers and owners say there’s still a stigma attached to discussing mental health at work, in part due to the largely male dominated nature of the industry.
General tips for looking after your mental health as a van driver
Mental health is a hugely complex issue, and the different circumstances and mindsets of every individual van driver means that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions for everyone. However, there are some good practices that van drivers can get into, to make the daily challenges more manageable.
Get some exercise as often as you can
Driving a van, especially for long distances, can be a largely sedentary task, punctuated by flurries of physical activity. What’s more, the irregular hours that many drivers work, especially at this time of year, means that it can be difficult to form regular habits. But it’s worth remembering that physical exercise (done for leisure, not for work) has long been associated with mental health benefits.
It doesn’t have to be an intensive few hours at the gym – even a brisk walk every so often can do wonders for getting you some fresh air away from your van, and help you to feel calmer and more refreshed – whether alone or with someone else. And that brings us neatly onto our next point…
Talk to someone
The nature of the job means that it’s not uncommon for van drivers to feel isolated, so it’s more important than ever to make an effort to stay in touch with friends and family. (Especially in these socially distanced times.) The fact that so many van drivers so often feel that they can’t talk about mental health at work also means that friends and family can be a valuable avenue for listening to these problems.
The mental and emotional isolation felt by so many men, including van drivers, is part of the reason why men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women. So if you’re feeling lonely or isolated, make it a priority to talk to someone. They might not be able to suggest any immediate solutions – and in many cases, arguably they shouldn’t try – but you might be surprised at how much a simple conversation can help in terms of helping you to feel less alone, and more well-equipped to deal with the problem.
Don’t be afraid to seek professional help
The same stigma that can prevent many men from talking to their friends or family can likewise sometimes prevent them from seeking professional help. But it’s worth remembering that it doesn’t necessarily have to involve long, detailed analyses if you don’t want it to. A simple conversation with your GP can direct you to plenty of useful online resources which may be able to help, and there are lots of helplines which can provide helpful advice in complete confidentiality. MIND is a good starting point – as one of the UK’s largest mental health charities, it contains a swathe of online and offline resources to help empower people to tackle mental health issues.
While we’re not mental health experts ourselves here at Van Discount, what we are good at is getting you the best price on a brand new van. With no shortage of cheap van deals to explore on our site, we save buyers an average of 40% off a new van – which can sometimes equate to thousands of pounds. Plus, with our in-house expertise and experience, we can even offer bespoke conversions for our customers. Feel free to take a look around our site, and if you’ve got any questions or advice, we’re just a phone call away on 01282 872 530!