Have you ever noticed how stressed you get behind the wheel of a car. We get upset when the person in front of us is driving to slow, traffic is backed up, a car cuts us off, or wishing the kids in the back would settle down. As we know stress causes many of the health problems we face today. Just think how a reduction in your stress while driving will make you healthier, especially when you think how many times we drive everyday.
bmwIf you live in an area similar to my parents in South Dakota you may be thinking to yourself what stress while driving. This article is for the rest of the world that has to deal with traffic, road construction, and more learner permit drivers than we know what to do with. The average person spends 1.5 hours a day behind the wheel of a car. Since we are not going to being spending this time exercising we can learn to lower our stress and improve our health while we drive.
The first secret to lower your stress while driving is to identify what cause you stress while behind the wheel. Most people have some daily event that causes their stress levels to rise. For some it is when they are stuck in traffic, getting cut off, changing lanes, or bad weather. These stresses are usually caused by fear that you may not be aware of. For instance when you hit gridlock in traffic is it really the traffic that upsets you or the fact that you are going to be late. You may find though you get upset at the traffic that it is really an underlining issue that causes your stress. The more you understand what causes you stress behind the wheel the better you can make a better choice to distress while driving.
I used to train a psychiatrist who talked about that one of the most common syptoms she would treat was road anxiety. She helped these people by having them eat a candy bar on their way home from work when they were the most stressed. What she didn’t know was that the reason people are so irritable on the way home from work comes a lack of proper eating habits. You body wants 5 small meals a day when it doesn’t get it your body finds unhealthy ways to get energy. In the case of our rush hour drivers, because they typically eat 3 meals or less, they have low blood sugar while driving home which causes them to be quickly go to anxiety and rage. You will find as your blood sugar is stable from eating throughout the day, your stress levels reduce substantially.
Tips for Better Stress Free Driving
1. Start your trip earlier: It will always take longer than you think to get some where, especially if you live in a big city. Most people’s stress rises because they didn’t give themselves enough time reach their destination if things don’t go perfectly. If you start early than you won’t be as bothered when traffic situations happen.
2. Relax while driving: Use the time while driving to unwind and reflect about your day. If you have a lengthy commute home spend the time being alone with yourself instead of racing to get home as fast as you can to only have plenty of stuff do once you get their. You have an opportunity to take a few minutes out of the rat race while you drive home.
3. Be courteous: We all hate it when someone cuts us off though I can’t throw the first stone from never cutting people off myself. A person once told me that how would you feel if that person was rushing a dying person to the hospital and that if they make it on time the person would survive. Every time I see a person driving dangerously I wish them well and hope that their need to drive fast has benefit for them. This works the same during accidents which if you live in Phoenix is an everyday occurrence. What calms me down is I truly hope the people are ok. Though I don’t like traffic slowing down, I don’t people hurt either. I find I lose my anger when I think of the poor people who are having it worse than my delay home.
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