10 Ways to Reduce Stress While Driving
Are you feeling stressed at the wheel? You’re not alone. Recent research found that 84 percent of UK drivers say they feel stressed at least occasionally while driving.
Maybe you’re running late to an important event, or you’re stuck in a mile-long traffic jam on the way to work. Perhaps a reckless driver is tailgating you, or you’ve hit a sudden road closure. There are many sources of frustration out on the road, but stress management while driving is key to diffusing the situation.
Calm driving is vital for your safety and the safety of others. But to become a calm driver requires practice, concentration and go-to methods of stress management.
Why do I get so stressed while driving?
A variety of factors can determine your stress level. The stress of everyday life, work issues, lack of sleep or personal problems are often top contributors to feeling anxious while driving your car.
Factors such as driving during peak times, being stuck in traffic, feeling out of control and unaware of the roads you’re on can also contribute to stress.
Stress isn’t just bad for your journey. It can also impact your physical and mental wellbeing, prevent you from concentrating and, in turn, impact your driving safety. Take a read of our top 10 driving tips to help keep your stress in check.
How do I stop driving stress?
1) Allow for extra time
Lack of time is a common source of stressful driving. Allow yourself extra time to commute, particularly when travelling to a new destination, in case you get lost.
Extra time provides immediate driving stress relief and means you can stay calm if you run into traffic or any unanticipated delays.
2) Plan your route
Preparation is paramount. Before even stepping into your car, you should decrease the chances of stress emerging. This could include planning your route before you set off.
Take a look at the most convenient route and whether there are any diversions that could interrupt your journey. Trying to find an alternative route while on the road won’t help you reach a calm driving state of mind.
3) Stay aware
Stressful driving situations are often due to other drivers doing something unexpected. Stay focused on what you are doing and look further down the road. This will allow you to become aware of upcoming hazards. You will be able to act fast, while keeping your stress levels low and driving safety front of mind.
4) Switch off your phone
Research found that around half of young people (aged 17 – 24) admitted to being distracted by their phone behind the wheel. An important driving tip is to reduce any and all distractions as much as you can.
If you’re an anxious driver, it could be a good idea to switch your phone off or place on ‘do not disturb’ so notifications can’t distract you.
5) Drive more often
You may be wondering; how do I gain confidence while driving a car? The age-old saying “practice makes perfect” applies to driving too.
If you’re a nervous driver, drive more often. This sounds counterintuitive, but driving on a regular basis could increase your confidence and transform you into a calm driver. Start in your local area and once you feel comfortable, try venturing onto busier roads.
6) Avoid conflict
Even if you’re a calm driver, it doesn’t mean others are. If another road user is driving recklessly, try to keep your distance from them. Don’t react by accelerating, slowing down, slamming on the brakes or honking your horn as this will reduce your car control and likely aggravate the other road user.
7) Look after your car
Breaking down or running out of fuel are stressful situations and won’t help with calm driving. You can reduce the chances of these situations occurring by ensuring you’re fuelled up before your fuel light starts flashing.
It’s also important to keep your car in healthy condition. Have it serviced regularly and do the necessary checks before making a long journey. Whether you’re leasing a car or own a car, it’s worthwhile considering a maintenance package for routine servicing.
8) Take a break and take a breather
There's no shame in pulling over for a quick breather when you can feel yourself getting stressed. In fact, this is one of the best forms of stress management while driving.
Negative emotions can be a distraction. Pulling over and taking five to 10 deep breaths can help clear your head. This will put you in a calm driving mindset to get back on the road.
9) Practice mindfulness
Mastering stress management is a lifestyle skill. Practising mindfulness in your day-to-day life can offer driving stress relief, allowing you to remain calm when frustrating situations arise.
Before starting your engine, take a moment to simply sit. Become aware of your breathing and put yourself in a calmer mental space. Getting in touch with how you feel before it takes over your mind can help you stay aware and focused while on the road.
10) Remind yourself why
If all else fails and you still find yourself driving while feeling stressed, consider the consequences. Driving safety should be your top priority while in your car to reduce the chance of a car accident occurring.
Think of the bigger picture and the danger it could cause you and other road users. This should motivate you to continue practising stress management while driving and help you on your journey to becoming a calm driver.
Calm driving is extremely important. It can help to reduce stressful situations and prevent unnecessary accidents. If the worst does happen and you find yourself in an accident with an uninsured driver, take a read of our article to find out what you should do next.
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