Some of us find the daily commute pretty stressful. In fact, numerous studies have suggested there’s a huge number of negative effects linked to longer commuting times, but for a lot of us it’s simply unavoidable. However, there are a number of techniques to help you minimise stress while driving to help you stay calm and collected on the road.
You’re more likely to get fidgety and stressed on your journey if you’re uncomfortable. Always adjust your seat to the best position before driving. Making sure your legs are comfortable, not too cramped and still able to reach the pedals easily.
There’s no rush
Rushing because we’re running late is a common stress inducer. Leave yourself an extra 15 minutes for your journey and use Google Maps to check live updates on traffic to avoid delays for a laid back journey.
Avoid car drama
There’s nothing more likely to stress you out on a long journey than breaking down at the side of the road… especially if that road is a busy motorway. Minimise the chances of this happening by getting your car serviced often to keep it in good nick.
Listen to music
Putting some background music on can help us relax and focus. A recent study has suggested different genres of music have different effects on our driving – both positive and negative. A playlist of your favourites for some background noise may help you avoid frustration on longer drives.
This concept’s been floating around for a while; reactive driving is waiting for a problem to occur to deal with it whilst proactive driving is anticipating problems to avoid them before they occur. For example, instead of hurling up to the traffic light you know you probably won’t make and slamming on the brakes last minute, anticipate that it’ll likely change and crawl to a stop. Reactive driving is aggressive by nature and increases stress levels, not to mention traffic. Proactive driving reduces stress levels by circumventing stressful situations which you could’ve avoided in the first place.
Keep away from aggressive drivers
We all know them – the BMW driver who tailgates you while you’re overtaking or the Audi driver who dangerously overtakes on a country lane. These idiots sadly exist. Avoid them at all costs. Don’t rise to the temptation of beeping at them or worse getting into a swearing match with them. Let them do their thing, they’ll do it regardless of how angry you are anyway.
Have a break
Whether it’s at a services or you need to pull over in a lay by to calm down, do it. The Highway Code recommends to take a 15 minute break every two hours of driving. If you’ve left early as per our previous advice you’ll rarely be in too much of a rush to stretch your legs.
Speaking of stretching
Car yoga is absolutely a thing! There’s plenty of seated car yoga positions you can try next time you’re stuck in standstill congestion on the motorway. It’s not just your body either, stretch your brain with a range of mindfulness exercises to keep you calm and relaxed no matter how frustrating the situation you’re in.
Do you have to drive?
The easiest solution to reducing stress if you find driving too stressful is a simple one – don’t. Sometimes it’s unavoidable of course, but a lot of journeys are possible by public transport instead depending on where you live and it’s better for the environment too.
For more advice on reducing stress through mindfulness, read about why I stopped meditating every day.