If the title alone makes you laugh in that sad-but-funny way, you definitely need to read this post. More than a few rideshare and delivery drivers wonder, in fact, if they might be downright crazy working these kinds of gigs in the first place.
While there’s no doubt that driving for a living can be more than slightly maddening, there are ways to maintain your mental health that you need to know about. We’re going to cover this topic objectively and compassionately, and offer practical solutions. Here’s how we’ll organize things:
- Why mental health matters
- The relationship between mental health and driving
- Threats to the gig driver’s emotional stability
- How to be a gig driver and stay happy
Why mental health matters
Have you ever heard of the mind-body connection? There are volumes written on it, as well as hours of videos and innumerable academic presentations. The mind-body connection is the term psychologists use to describe the way the mind can affect the body.
Maybe you’ve noticed that when you’re feeling down or even depressed, you seem to get more colds. Or that when you’re uptight about dealing with authority figures, or even having to deal with upsetting financial issues, you get a pain in the neck or a major headache? And how many times has a large dose of emotional turmoil made you sick to your stomach?
It’s true that many physical ailments can be related to mental and emotional distress. Stress, in and of itself, can cause problems such as heart disease and debilitating muscle spasms. A lack of exercise or free movement can create musculoskeletal conditions that turn into crippling arthritis. The mind and the body are inexorably connected, and the fact that you need to take care of your body, on its own, is enough reason to tend to your mental health.
The relationship between mental health and driving
Your ability to cope, or lack of it, with your work life can really mess up your home, family, and social life. We’ve all heard of “work-life balance” among the clichéd phrases that get thrown around in the name of “mindfulness” and “wellness.”
Being unable to recover from what we put ourselves through on the average driving shift can gravely disrupt relationships with those we love. While it’s true that we have to hustle to make a good income with gig driving, we also need to take time off for the sake of our own mental health.
If we don’t do this, our performance suffers. We could make mistakes with the app, fail to pick up or deliver the right items, accidentally go through stop signs or red lights, or wind up in mishaps that involve other vehicles and injure innocent people. You can’t be a reliable driver without a brain and body that’s well rested and alert, and you can’t have a healthy body if you don’t prevent what’s going on in your mind from slowly tearing it apart.
Threats to the gig driver’s emotional stability
Gig working is challenging enough, with problems such as long hours, changing shifts , late nights and disrupted sleep, eating far too many meals alone and/or while on the run, and not sticking to a healthy diet. Doing gig driving while the driver is literally running on empty isn’t safe for the driver, potential passengers, or other people who happen to be on the road.
The stress of dealing with traffic jams, cranky passengers, restaurant employees, and delivery customers can certainly tax a driver’s ability to cope. Add in the pressure from the driving app to make double deliveries, or multiple stops for a customer whose trip isn’t going to amount to much, and you’ve got a recipe for mental meltdowns.
In addition to all that, the social lives of drivers often suffer because the best times for them to work are when everybody else is out having a good time. It’s hard to find friends who want to have a few drinks or play video games with you on random Tuesday afternoons. This can result in depression and isolation, and may even lead to drug and alcohol abuse.
No one wants to see drivers wind up as a suicide statistic, but sadly, some do. Financial pressures, considering the fluctuations in DoorDash driver pay or Instacart shopper pay, can contribute to fear, anxiety, and depression.
The risks drivers take to their personal safety can heighten hypervigilance, and further stress. Along with all this, rising costs of living and the shrinking opportunities offered by the average rideshare driver app create a disheartening combination of crushing stressors.
While these situations paint a bleak picture of the life rideshare and delivery drivers lead, you’re not destined to experience a life of stress and sadness. With the right tools and smart mental health moves, you can take control of your life, find better job satisfaction, and create a more balanced mix between work and fun.
How to be a gig driver and stay happy
There’s plenty of DoorDash driver advice out there, and certainly no shortage of Uber driver advice. Much of it simply puts more pressure on drivers: drive more hours, get two phones and use two apps at the same time, drive in the middle of the night when no one else will.
Advice like this doesn’t do a very good job at lessening stress. Here, we want to focus on ways to maintain your mental health, not lose your “stuff!” With that in mind, let’s look at some of the challenges drivers face, and find solutions that make being a driver easier and your life much happier.
Turn loneliness and isolation into engagement and socialization.
If you simply jump into your vehicle and drive around, grumpily picking up people and/or packages and meals, as though you don’t want to be there, you can become quite lonely, very fast. It’s true that any conversations you might have may be brief and not terribly meaningful, but if you take on a friendly attitude, you’ll feel so much more socially connected.
How can you do this? Go out of your way to say a few words to people you meet. Yes, even the surly burrito roller at your regular pickup spot will get way nicer when you ask how their day’s going, or even simply comment on what a nice day it is. Customers for rideshare don’t always want to talk, but many do. You’ll be amazed at the cool connections you can make and the interesting characters you’ll encounter!
Turn not knowing where to turn into finding the help you need.
If you’re feeling as though you need immediate help to get out of your funk, or overcome anxiety, be less angry, or keep clear boundaries, there’s a wonderful place for you to turn to.
Sesame, rated the #1 telehealth company in 2021, is a comprehensive resource for medical as well as mental health care. Set up an appointment with a medical or mental health specialist within minutes, and get the help you need. Visits cost as little as $19 each, and if you’re a Gridwise user, you’ll receive a 20% discount when you use the code GRIDWISE20. Sesame will be there for you 365, 24/7. Book an appointment any time, at sesamecare.co, and take advantage of your Gridwise discount.
Turn driver burnout into knowing when enough is enough.
Using a delivery or rideshare driver app can easily drag you into doing more work than you originally intended. The video game-like aspect of the apps can have you chasing that one more delivery for an extra $25, or pushing your ride total up so you can reach the platinum level for Uber Pro. Pay attention to when you feel compelled by the nature of the driving game, set deadlines or financial goals for yourself, and stop before you…just can’t.
Taking more breaks can help, too. Pull over now and then, park safely, then create your own little “meditation time.” This can help you to calm down and be ready to take on more driving with a much more relaxed and balanced outlook.
Turn worries about pay into certainty about what you’re earning.
If you knew exactly how much you were earning for each day, week, and month you drive, maybe you wouldn’t give in to that compulsion to keep driving for a few extra hours. As the best earning tracker app for gig drivers, Gridwise tracks all your gig driving earnings, seamlessly. Simply sync your driving apps with Gridwise, and detailed, easy-to-read graphs, displaying how much you’re earning, magically appear.
Any shrink will tell you that certainty can help alleviate anxiety, as will knowing what you can’t change, and identifying the things you can do something about.
Turn fretting about finding business into knowing where and when you can make the most money.
Driving around aimlessly looking for business, particularly with gas prices shooting through the roof, can add tons of stress to a driver’s life. That’s why Gridwise developed Where to Drive and When to Drive. These powerful features provide data based on real drivers in your area. They show you the best times and places to get the business you’re looking for, and help you plan your driving life so you can fit in some social time too.
While we’re talking about drivers’ mental health, let’s pose a rather poignant question: What happens when you really need professional help? As it turns out, it’s easier to get affordable medical and mental health coverage than you might think.
Turn the “no benefits” tightrope walk into a safety net that keeps you covered.
One of the biggest risks drivers take as independent contractors is working without getting employee benefits. Everything is fine while you’re healthy and strong, but as soon as something goes wrong, you could wind up with a major financial disaster piling on top of your substantial medical woes.
This no longer has to happen. With Gridwise Benefits, you can get coverage that makes you feel safe in almost any kind of unfortunate situation. Gridwise is so much more than an Uber mileage tracking app or Lyft mileage tracker. It’s a resource that offers tons of great benefits, including
- Gridwise Protection: covers 80% of your income when you’re unable to work
- Gridwise Dollar Benefits: offers low-cost and no-cost policies for
- accidental death & disability (AD&D) insurance
- life insurance
- telehealth visits with $0 copay
- accident medical-expense insurance
- dental insurance
- vision insurance
- critical illness insurance
As you can see, Gridwise is way more than a rideshare assistant app and earnings tracker app for gig drivers. It’s the #1 assistant for rideshare and delivery drivers because it supplies drivers with all the things they need to be successful on the road, and helps drivers support and maintain their financial and mental health.
With Gridwise, you’re never out there on the road all alone. Get smart. Get Gridwise. It’s free!