Due to the nature of their work, long distance drivers must work hard to maintain family relationships. They can spend long hours and sometimes days or weeks on the road before allowing themselves a few hours at home, and then quickly return to work.
Clinical therapist Shankari Sharma of the Therapy Center in Toronto and Baldev Mutta, CEO of Punjabi Community Health Services in Ontario, offer several tips to help drivers better manage relationships with loved ones.
1. Establish connection rituals
Regular phone calls, short emails or text messages with family and loved ones build what Ms. Sharma connection rituals.
Take time to discuss important issues such as finances, parenting and health care. This will prevent resentment from building up over time.
2. Prioritize personal conversations
Sometimes the sleepy driver calls his wife and talks on the phone for an hour to stay awake, but he has nothing to say when he gets home, Mutta said. The latter recommends limiting the duration of phone calls and keeping in-depth discussions for the home.
3. Outsource some household chores
The burden will be light on those who stay at home. If your budget allows, outsource some household chores to professionals, suggests Sharma. This may include childcare, transportation to school or extracurricular activities, and routine tasks such as lawn maintenance or snow removal.
4. Pay attention to signs that something is wrong
When sleep and eating schedules are disrupted and motivation levels drop, this is a sign that something is wrong in a relationship. Or perhaps the frequency or intensity of conflict is increasing. A person may avoid certain situations just to escape things that stress them out.
According to Sharma, some people react by adopting bad habits, such as drug use, self-harm and compulsive eating. It can also be expressed through risky or reckless behavior, such as sex, unprotected sex, more risky behavior on the internet, exchanging messages with explicit sexual content, dangerous online talk, and compulsive consumption of pornography.
5. Reaching people before technology
Baldev Mutta advocates increasing physical connections to improve mental health and strengthen relationships. Technology consumes a lot of time and, he said, parents only spend about 10 minutes a day with their teenage children. Teenagers themselves are also closer to their friends and peers than their parents because of the same technology.
Diversity increases without cuddling and playing, and relationships become superficial, Mutta continued. The same goes for interactions between spouses.
6. Fix Adjustable Problems
Fixing “good” problems makes a person happy, says Ms. Sharma. Paying the bills or adjusting your schedule so you can rest, sleep and eat properly are good examples of steps that can reduce stress in a relationship. Treating physical ailments can also improve mental health, as the two are linked.
7. Start with five minutes a day
Mr. suggested But people who say they are busy spend five minutes a day to communicate with their children. Read a book and chat with them. And when you take a few minutes to talk to your spouse or partner, be sure to hold their hand and make physical contact to create an emotional connection.
8. Make Happy Choices – But Avoid Arbitrary Choices
When drivers spend time at home, Mutta stresses the importance of making happy choices. But it is equally important to ensure that the choices are not arbitrary. A driver who thinks his spouse needs a break from cooking may offer to take the family to a restaurant, but the family may want to stay home to discuss something important. Always ask your family members what they want to do when you get home.