It’s normal to feel stressed sometimes. However, stress can cause strong emotions such as anxiety, anger, worry or sadness, which can be triggered when driving. It’s important to keep these emotions at bay as they can cause you to make illogical decisions, putting you, your passengers, and other drivers at risk. Here are eight tips on how to reduce stress when driving.
1. Ask yourself: do you need to drive today?
If you’re feeling stressed and anxious and you know driving isn’t going to help how you’re feeling, consider taking public transport, or ask someone else to drive you.
2. Take deep breaths
Before starting the car engine, try and clear your mind as much as possible by taking deep breaths. Deep breathing is one of the best calming exercises you can do to reduce stress and anxiety. Start by breathing in through your nose and then letting it out through your mouth. The more you practice deep breathing, the more it will become a habit, which means you will have a general sense of calm as you go about your everyday life.
3. Get some fresh air
One of the main benefits of fresh air is that it promotes the production of serotonin, which can give you more energy and mental focus. This is helpful when you’re feeling stressed. Try and keep your window down to let some fresh air in while you’re driving.
4. Listen to music
Music is known to elevate your mood, lower stress levels, and calm your mind and body. If you’re feeling a bit stressed, listen to your favourite playlist or turn on the radio. If you’re feeling a bit brave, sing along and you’ll feel your mood start to lift!
5. Don’t entertain negativity
If someone cuts you off or beeps their horn at you, it’s likely to make you feel even more stressed or angry. Try not to let it affect you, as this could lead you to make some rash decisions, such as tailgating and responding in anger or frustration at the other driver. If you identify an aggressive driver, let them pass you and keep your distance from them.
6. Adjust your position
nother way you can relieve stress while driving is to try and get into a comfortable position and relax. If you find you’re gripping your steering wheel tightly, loosen your hands and fingers. If you’re hunched over the steering wheel or too close to it, try sitting back against the seat. When you come to a stop, stretch your arms out to loosen any muscle tension.
7. Plan ahead
If you’re feeling stressed before you drive, try and plan your route so you’re avoiding potential delays or traffic. If you’re travelling to a new place, factor in some extra time in case you get lost.
8. Pull over
If you’ve tried everything and you’re still feeling stressed and overwhelmed, pull over. Stress can affect your driving ability so it’s best to take some time out to clear your head and collect yourself mentally and physically. If possible, pull over somewhere where you can get out of the car and stretch your legs.