Owning your own Freight Agency is a financially lucrative endeavor with many benefits. As an Independent Freight Agent, you can work from home, set your own schedule, and have unlimited earning potential. That being said, is being a Freight Agent a stressful job? The answer is, yes. But, with the right stress management techniques, there are several long-term strategies Agents can use for stress reduction. Let’s take a look.

Understanding the Role of a Freight Agent

Simply put, a Freight Agent is an independent contractor who coordinates the transportation of goods for shippers under the authority of a Freight Broker. Agents are skilled at sales, negotiation, and communication. They arrange the pickup, transit, and delivery of cargo by negotiating with carriers. Their work involves lead generation of new shippers, managing logistics details, ensuring timely delivery, and maintaining communication with both shippers and carriers. (Read this article to learn more about What is a Freight Agent?)

Is it Hard to Be a Freight Agent? 

Most jobs require a four-year bachelor’s degree or more education to even be considered for an entry-level position. However, the job of a Freight Agent is unique in that you only need to learn the industry, use your skills, and build relationships in order to work and advance in the field. You don’t need a license or certification. However, to find a Freight Broker to partner with, you often need experience, or a book of business. This is where taking an online course such as this one can help get you started on the right foot. 

In contrast, Agents do not carry the financial or insurance liability needed to operate. This burden falls on the Freight Broker. This is one reason it is easier to become an Agent rather than a Broker. (Read this article to learn more about What is a Freight Broker?)

Common Stress Factors in the Freight Agent Role

Work can be stressful as Agents are responsible for ensuring shipments are delivered on time and in good condition. When there is a lot of freight to move, Agents often work long hours and with tight deadlines. And since they work from home, it is often hard to leave work at work. 

There are various aspects that contribute to Freight Agent stress. Common Freight Agent challenges include:

  • lead generation
  • inconsistent pricing within the market
  • limited carrier base
  • carrier problems
  • shipper satisfaction
  • communication with all parties involved
  • technology

As with any job, stress can lead to burnout over time. Fortunately, there are strategies to help.

Stress Management Techniques for Freight Agents

Burnout is “a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress,” according to Psychology Today. Common symptoms include chronic fatigue, negativism or cynicism, reduced productivity, and intense health challenges. So, what’s an Agent to do? Prioritize your health. 

1. Get Adequate Sleep

Of all the Freight Agent stress relief techniques, this is most important. People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have health problems, regardless of their job. Aim to get at least 7 hours of quality sleep every night. The key word is quality. To have quality sleep, develop a consistent bedtime and wake time. If you are a parent, you likely have a bedtime routine for your children. This is your sign to start one for yourself, too. 

2. Fuel Your Body Well

What we put in our body energizes or drains our bodies. We all know we’re supposed to “eat healthy” but what does that mean? An easy way is to eat the rainbow. Aim to incorporate as many colors into your meals as possible. Since fruits and vegetables are packed with color, you’ll naturally be consuming more of these. It is also helpful to eat a fiber-rich breakfast to set your day up for success. Fiber fills your body and cleans your arteries so you feel full longer.

3. Stay Hydrated

Water improves energy levels and boosts overall health. Make it a goal to drink at least 64 ounces each day. Many standard reusable bottles hold around 20 ounces, so this would be about 3 large bottles each day. Keep a large glass or bottle of water next to you. Try using a straw, adding in citrus fruit, cucumber, or berries to mix up the flavor. You can even challenge yourself to drink a certain amount by each meal. Regardless, find what works for you and do it!

4. Move Every Day

Schedule at least 20 minutes each day to move. Go outside for a walk, stay inside and do a quick workout, or head to the gym if that’s your thing. The easiest way to incorporate movement into your day is to stack it with another habit or routine you currently do. For instance, if you drop your kids off at school in the morning, park a little further away and walk the rest of the way. If you like to listen to a podcast after lunch, put it in your earbuds and do a loop around the neighborhood. We make time for what is important to us. 

5. Find Support

When we feel stress, our natural tendency is to isolate and numb. We want to forget about our problems. One powerful technique of stress management for Freight Agents is to find someone or a group of people you trust to help you stay on track. This might be a spouse, friend, or another Agent who understands what you’re going through. Schedule times to check in and be

accountable. And if you don’t have this kind of support, consider seeking professional help. We aren’t meant to journey alone. 

Coping Mechanisms and Support

In addition to the above stress management techniques, there are also healthy ways of coping with stress as a Freight Agent.

1. Deep Breathing

If you talk to anyone with a counseling background, breathing is often a primary coping mechanism they teach for mental health strategies. Why? Because it works. Deep breathing triggers your brain out of a flight or fight response and activates the part of your brain that tells your body to relax. One way to do this is to breathe in through your nose and let your belly expand as you count to five slowly, then exhale through your mouth as you count to five slowly. If you want practical ways to practice deep breathing, simply do an online search for deep breathing techniques. 

2. Focus on Gratitude

A powerful Freight Agent mental health support tool is intentionally thinking about what you are grateful for. You can transform your life for free in just a few minutes each day by listing at least three things you are thankful for. Many people like to do this first thing upon waking, or at the end of the day as part of a bedtime routine. 

How? Jot your gratitude in a note on your phone, text them to your spouse, or keep a journal. When you start a consistent practice of looking for good things, you retrain your brain to notice them. This improves sleep quality, decreases depression, lowers blood pressure, builds your mental resilience, and strengthens your relationships (read this article for more benefits of gratitude). 

3. Positive Self-Talk

It is easy to be critical of yourself and let negative thought patterns spiral out of control when you are stressed. This is because your body is in a flight or fight response and operating out of the stem of your brain, rather than being in the front of your brain where you are able to think critically. If you notice yourself saying things you wouldn’t say to someone you love, write them down and find a way to turn that negative talk into positive. Instead of, “I’m never going to get this done” try saying, 

  • I am smart, confident and capable. 
  • My challenges help me grow.
  • Every day is a fresh start.
  • I can figure it out, I’ve overcome tougher challenges

If it seems “out there” or “not for you”, please give it a try anyway. Combine this with deep breathing for maximum impact. 

Long-Term Strategies for Stress Reduction

Agents who utilize stress management techniques and coping mechanisms are well on their way to tackling each day with success. There are also long-term stress reduction strategies for Freight Agents. One way is to be intentional about time management so you schedule your priorities and accomplish the most important tasks first (read this article for more productivity tips). 

Balancing work and stress for Freight Agents is not easy, but it is possible when you prioritize your mental health.

For instance, one way to have work-life balance is to dedicate time to your relationships. This may mean setting aside a scheduled block of time for your kids, a monthly date night, a quarterly hangout with friends, and so on. If you plan for it, it’s more likely to happen!

Final Thoughts on Freight Agent Stress

Is being a Freight Agent hard? Yes. Is it stressful? Yes. But, aren’t most jobs? It comes down to a mindset shift of acknowledging stress, prioritizing your mental health in the Freight Agent profession, and seeking support. Your work matters, but YOU matter more! 

Are you a motivated Independent Freight Agent with a book of business interested in making a change? Accelerate your success with Kopf! Apply here to start the process.