Stress is a very real and prevalent daily experience. Although we need a certain amount of stress for healthy living (it keeps us motivated and energetic), chronic stress and high levels of it can be detrimental to health. So here`s Adrienne from Food Fitness with ways you can de-stress during what can often be a highly stressful activity: driving.
Aggressive drivers, never-ending road work, mile long traffic jams, missed turns — is it any wonder driving is a stressful experience?
While there may not be a way to completely remove stress from driving, it is possible to decrease and manage your personal stress levels. If getting behind the wheel winds you up, use these five tips to help bring your heartrate down:
1. Practice Yoga
Yes, you can do yoga in the car.
Meditative breathing exercises are a great way to manage the stress of traffic jams, tail-gaters, terrifyingly short merging lanes and other driving pains. Controlled breathing can rid your body of tension and stress. Concentrating on your breathing can also serve double duty by helping you ignore the anger and frustration you feel toward rude motorists.
Some yoga stretches are also possible in the car. However, you want to save these stretches for red lights and traffic jams. Instead of giving yourself a headache trying to make the light change faster, think of red lights as designated yoga pit stops. Assign each light on your commute to a different body part: neck, back, hips, etc.
2. Use That Sound System
What’s your preference? FM radio? Satellite radio? Podcasts? Audiobooks? Listening to your recordings of choice works will make driving more bearable, if not downright fun.
Find a great rush hour talk show and make a date with it every morning. Save your favorite podcasts as a special driving treat. Listen to incredible artists bring books and plays to life. Pump up your favorite jams, sing along, and don’t be afraid to give a little shimmy every now and then. Who knows, you might bring a smile to another motorist’s face.
3. Remember That You Are Not a Cop
Some jerk cut you off? Tailgating you? Passing you illegally?
Remember, it’s not your job to “teach them a lesson." Responding to aggressive driving with aggressive driving only escalates an already dangerous situation. How dangerous? Road rage or aggressive driving is to blame for 1,500 deaths every year. When you let your anger or frustration dictate your driving, you forget your real priority, which should be to get yourself and your passengers to your destination safely.
If you think another driver is truly a danger to other motorists, call emergency services and give the vehicle’s plate number, the road they’re on and the direction they’re heading. Dangerous drivers need to be stopped, but that’s a job for the police — not you.
4. Keep Your Car Stocked
You know those Snickers commercials, “you’re not you when you’re hungry?" It’s true. Hunger can cause a bad mood all on its own. Add hunger to an already stressful situation, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
To keep from getting hangry (hungry-angry) and to ensure your blood sugar and judgment stay intact, keep a few easy to eat snacks on hand. Dried fruit, granola, nuts and drinkable yogurt are all easy to eat on the go. Even better, they’ll help you resist the artery-clogging, wallet-draining allure of the fast food drive thru.
5. Have a Plan
A lot of driving stress can be attributed to unfamiliar routes and traffic patterns or insufficient travel times.
Increase your confidence by reviewing new routes before hitting the road. If you have passengers, ask someone to help you navigate. And remember, a missed turn is not the end of the world. You can always take the next turn and backtrack, or pull over and figure out a new route.
Decrease your stress by giving yourself extra time to get where you’re going. Give yourself an extra five to ten minutes for familiar, low traffic routes. That should be plenty of time to allow for unexpected delays like road work or an accident. Allow more time for new routes or congested traffic areas. Giving yourself extra time means you won’t feel as pressured to speed, nor will you feel as panicked if you take a wrong turn or miss an exit. For long trips, I’ll usually leave myself an hour or more of “wiggle room!"
Remember, you can’t control other drivers. However, you can manage your response and make your car a more pleasant place to be.
About the Author
Adrienne is a blogger and freelance designer passionate about healthy living, good food, and fitness. You can see more of her work by following @foodierx on Twitter or visiting her blog, Foodie Fitness.
I`ve found that Adrienne`s tip about giving more time ALWAYS helps lower driving stress. Is there a tip you`d like to include in this list?