Driving is not easy as traffic jams, crazy drivers, and bad roads are everywhere. But it’s okay. This article shares with you 4 tips on how to be calm while driving.
Driving sometimes can be an intimidating task. Sitting behind wheels creeping inch by inch on the road for hours on end because of traffic jams, getting bumped by a driver who does not know how to handle his or her car, or stumbling over illegal roadblocks is some of the many causes that lead to road rage. At that time, a devil may whisper into your ears, urging you to do belligerent things which may range from swearing to getting off your car and getting into a fight. If you do not consider yourself the kind of person who would jump in and fight because of a small collision, the anger and frustration of driving can add to the irritation that you get from other activities and other places such as work or school, and well, stress is just not a great feeling. Life is stressful enough as it is, let’s at least have a relaxing and chill drive.
Stress may prevent you from driving safely
1. Be mindful of the moment
Mindfulness is focusing on the here and now, so in driving, it means paying attention only to where you are right at that moment. Putting your whole focus on driving leaves no space to think of other stuff such as where you will be in five minutes, what is your destination, whether you will be back home on time, or what car will cut you off today. They are in the future and sooner or later, they will come and you will know. Anxiety is worrying about the things that will not come which is probably not real, so stay calm, keep your eyes on the road, and keep driving.
To assist with mindfulness, you can try deep breathing. There is the cliche that people always say when someone gets tensed or nervous: Take a deep breath. It sounds boring and unexciting to the ears because you have heard it God knows how many times, but in a sense, it is true. Taking a slow, deep diaphragmatic breath can actually slow heart rate, improve blood flow, increase energy level, and generally calm your nerves. A correct deep breath is when you puff up your belly when you inhale and pull in your belly when you exhale. This way of breathing, which is called diaphragmatic breathing allows more oxygen to travel into your body and more toxins to escape. Whenever you catch yourself thinking about something else other than driving and tensing up, take a few diaphragmatic breaths, pull your shoulders down, and focus on your own driving.
Pay attention to your driving at the moment and take a few deep breaths to calm your nerves
2. Stop your ANTs
Dr Daniel Amen, the author of “Use Your Brain to Change Your Age” creates the word “ANT”, which is Automatic Negative Thought. In situation where you are very susceptible to stress, there usually are some particular thoughts that automatically and repeatedly run through your mind, such as “That taxi is nuts! Go die!”, “Those drivers are a bunch of idiots and morons.”, “Where the hell does he think he is driving at?”, “Why on earth do I have to drive on these terrible roads every day? Don’t people know how to fix it?”, or something of that sort but more vulgar in language. We all curse in traffic. Don’t worry. You are not alone.
In this case, you can use the mindful exercise above and watch where your mind is going. The goal is not to feel nothing while driving, because someone cutting you off is definitely not fun, but to have the angry and stressful thoughts come and go as clouds in the sky, and to replace them with more forgiving and calmer thoughts that focus more on what you can DO, such as “That driver is driving too fast. I should go to that lane to avoid him.”. This way, you can relax better when driving.
Kill your ANTs, replace them with calmer thoughts, and focus on what you yourself can do
3. Blast the music
One great way to distract from the traffic condition and the road that may easily get on your nerves is to blast the music in your car. It is a no-brainer method; when you do not pay attention to the potential source of anxiety and stress, you are unlikely to feel those emotions! So put on your favourite songs, and start jamming to the melody. Others may see you through the window and give a judgmental look, but ignore those stares, or better yet, give them a big smile and sing to them like you are a superstar. You may not dance and move around too much in your car, but your soul is satisfied and your mind is calm. That is exactly what we want.
One note though: while blasting the music, we do highly recommend that you pay attention to your driving and not get so engrossed in the music that you close your eyes or start losing your ability to focus and react fast. Safety first, guys!
Turn up the music if they try to get you stressed
4. Personalise your car
Decorating your own car is one way to make you less nervous while driving, whether you want to believe it or not. Basically, you would put the things you enjoy in the car and create the inside the cabin into a relaxing and lovely one. When you have things you love inside the car with you, the likelihood of veins popping is much lower. It can be as simple as putting an air freshener that has the colour and shape that you like on the air conditioner, having a cute bobble-head flower on the dashboard, sticking a photo from your latest vacation to your car’s sun visor, attaching your children’s arts on the dashboard, and so on. If you love scents and are sensitive to different aromas, you can try installing a diffuser with your favourite scent that you know for sure will calm you down inside the cabin. The rest is saying goodbye to stress. Voilà~
Make the space behind the driving wheel your happy place and stress is the thing of the past