At the end of a long workday, no one looks forward to the inevitable and congested roadblock that is traffic. However, the experience of traffic can drastically change for the better if you handle it in a calm and rational way.
Alleviate the stress of traffic by implementing the following methods behind the wheel:
Make yourself comfortable
Before starting the engine, make yourself comfortable in the driver’s seat. For example, shrug off a formal coat or untuck your shirt. You should even slip into some comfy shoes if you have them. Let’s say an occupation requires you to wear high heels or formal dress shoes for prolonged periods of time. You would be doing yourself a favor to keep a pair of shoes in the trunk that won’t make you dread the car ride home.
When faced with a stressful situation such as an inconsiderate driver in front of you, just breathe. Take slow deep breaths before you react. Sometimes, all you need is a few seconds of breathing to let go of the emotions that were ignited by a small situation. Additionally, mindful and slow breathing brings awareness to the rest of your body, which can help you release muscle tension in stiff shoulders or loosen a grip on the steering wheel.
Don’t give into road rage
There will always be drivers who act like they own the road, but that doesn’t mean getting on their level makes anything better. In fact, your road rage could make a situation worse. While it feels good to honk or scream at a person who cut you off, doing so is a waste of energy and can even become a safety hazard. At the end of the day, other drivers have no significance in your life, so why should they be worth a fit of anger? Giving into your emotions has the potential to cause an accident.
Clear the space
Driving with a cluttered car can trigger more stress and anxiety because messes, in general, are distracting and overstimulating to our senses. Therefore, take a quick moment to carefully put personal belongings in the back seat to remove them from your field of vision. You need to be organized and clutter-free to feel at ease!
Utilize aromatherapy in the form of an air freshener. Scents such as lavender or lemongrass will gradually relax and calm you as they waft through the vehicle. Aromatherapy positively impacts your olfactory system (the part of the brain that experiences smell) since it stimulates the production of dopamine and serotonin.
Turn up the music or podcast
Music has the ability to trigger a release of dopamine and endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers. Therefore, don’t be afraid to blast your favorite song and sing along at the top of your lungs, or unwind with soft instrumentals. No matter the genre, music will undoubtedly always reduce your levels of cortisol and general feelings of anxiety. Additionally, driving in traffic gives you the opportunity to explore podcasts which can further develop your interest and knowledge in specific subjects.
The next time you find yourself stuck in traffic, remember that it’s only a temporary situation and does not need to be any more stressful than it has to be. As long as you are aware of your attitude, control your emotions, and create a calm space in the vehicle – exasperation will be the last thing you feel during traffic.