Your health
Holidays are here and you are 'out there'

By Buck Black, LCSW, LCAC

Every year, I hear about truckers who are unable to get home time during the holidays - those who are disappointed because they were promised they would be home and end up missing the holiday, as well as those who have to continue to work through the holiday season to make ends meet.

If you can't be home for the holidays for whatever reason, it is important to show your family that you care. Make plenty of phone calls. Texts and emails are nice, but hearing your family's voice is so much better - and video conferencing is even more ideal. Also, make sure that you stay as positive as you can.

If you start thinking negatively, you can put yourself into such an angry and depressed state that you will ensure a negative holiday season. Remember, you can celebrate the holidays in your truck and keep focused on the positives, even though you may be sad that you cannot make it home.

Is this the first time you've missed a holiday gathering? It is important to realize that loving your family does not equate to being with them on a particular holiday. You can cherish them just as much by finding another day to be with them. Don't forget to express your feelings to your family and be honest with yourself that you might feel terrible about not being able to be with them.

However, remind yourself that you will get through it. Also, don't forget the reason that you are on the road - to provide for your family. It is a selfless act to provide for your family and the rest of the country by working over the holidays. Could you imagine the impact on our stores and economy if all truckers took the holidays off?

Not all truckers have families. This can be a time where even more depression sets in. This may be an important time to focus on the things in life that you are grateful for. You do not have to buy into the idea that the holiday times are depressing if you do not have family. Observe the holidays in your own way or ignore them altogether. This also applies for those who have significant family disputes. If you feel the holiday season will spur trouble, it is perfectly acceptable to limit your holiday activities or ignore them.

Some tips for getting through the holiday season:

  • Do not fixate on the exact date. If you miss the holiday, you can spend time with family in the near future. It is OK to celebrate days, if not weeks, before or after the holiday.
  • When discussing holiday subjects, especially with your partner, use phone (or video conferencing, if possible) in order to help with accurate communication. Your tone of voice can often make a world of difference in working problems out or causing new ones.
  • Be sure to make your calls when you still have good energy. If you call at the end of your day, this can really hurt enthusiasm and attention.
  • Keep as much of a mix of email, phone and old-fashioned letters as possible. Everyone is used to getting calls and emails. Postcards are those neat little things that most people enjoy and are not expecting.
  • Send a small and inexpensive gift to your loved one. Again, this can mix things up a bit and be fun for both parties involved. You can always buy holiday gifts online and have them shipped to the house. Often, you can even order them prewrapped.

Please let me know what helps you to handle the holidays when you are on the road. Tweet me: @TruckerTherapy. LL

Buck Black is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker therapist who specializes in helping truckers and their families with anger and stress management, as well as depression and relationship problems. He does this over the phone, and Skype at TruckerTherapy.com. This column is not necessarily the opinion of Land Line Magazine.