When driving stressed, strong emotions such as worry, rage and misery can surface and cause illogical reactions putting yourself, your passengers and other drivers at risk. To avoid stress driving, here are some tips to reduce anxiety behind the wheel.
1. Take deep breaths
If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed while driving, take a few deep breaths. Diaphragmatic breathing with Inhaling and exhaling can be a powerful relaxation technique to calm the mind and body. Take a deep breath in through the nose, making sure the diaphragm can inflate with plenty of air, helping your lungs to stretch. Perform this breathing technique five to 10 times in a row to relax and reduce anxiety. You can also create your own meditation mix filled with soothing sounds and breathing exercises that you can play in the car at moment’s notice when feeling overwhelmed.
2. Adjust position
Simply adjusting your position in the car and keeping your body loose can help limit stress. If you find yourself gripping the steering wheel too tightly, loosen your hands and fingers. If you are hunched over the wheel, try leaning back or adjust the car seat to make yourself more comfortable. Move your shoulders up and down and keep your jaw unclenched. When you are stopped at a red light, stretch your arms in the air to relive any possible muscle tension.
3. Listen to music
Sometimes when you are stress driving, a little bit of music can go a long way. Listening to music has been known to elevate your mood, lower stress and calm the body. So, turn on the radio or listen to your favourite playlist to unwind. Have your own version of James Corden’s ‘Carpool Karaoke’ and rock out.
4. Leave extra space
If you’re feeling stressed on your drive, leaving a cushion of space between you and other cars around you can help ease the fear of getting into a collision and be prepared for the unexpected. If you are on the highway, allow room for other cars to merge. If you are driving at night or during bad weather, increase the amount of space to give yourself more time to stop.
5. Allow extra time
If you are feeling stressed before your drive, allow yourself to have some extra time to commute. If you are travelling to a new destination, give yourself some extra time in case you get lost. Try to plan your route beforehand to avoid traffic or construction delays.
6. Pull over
Lastly, if you are stress driving and feeling really overwhelmed, pull off to the side when it is safe to do so. Stress can most likely affect your driving abilities, so it’s best to ease on the side of caution and take a break to calm yourself. Negative emotions can be a distraction when driving. Pulling over can give you the opportunity to clear your head and collect yourself physically and mentally.