According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic, Americans drive a total of 2.45 trillion miles on the road and, on average, spend a total of 290 hours on the road. That’s a lot to be driving! All this time on the road can take its toll on our mental health.
We drive our children to school, and we drive ourselves to work. We drive to the grocery store, and we drive out to dinner. There’s soccer games, spin classes, visiting grandma – the list is endless. What can a person do to avoid feeling frayed from traffic? Here are some ideas that will help you keep calm.
Five Methods to Overcome Traffic Stress
Maneuver Around Angry Thoughts
You can be reasonably certain to encounter someone or something frustrating while you’re driving. However, being in a car can give people a sense of anonymity, and they might say or do things they wouldn’t normally do face-to-face. Expect and acknowledge angry thoughts while you're driving. Let them occur, accept them, and then maneuver around them and move on to the next thought. Don’t let them stay in your head, because they can snowball into anxiety or rage.
Enjoy the Scenery
Maintain your perspective and know that traffic is only temporary. Whatever happens as a consequence of that traffic is also only temporary. If you’re late, most people will understand. Ruminating about what will occur because of the traffic will only make your stress worse. Instead, take in the scenery around you and maintain your perspective.
Put the Brakes On
People who become stressed or angry when driving may start to fidget or move around. The traffic is their chance to “do something” constructive. When sitting in traffic, they may start to try to gather the trash around their seat, and while sitting in traffic. They’ll flip through stations on the radio without staying on any one station. This nervous activity only heightens anxiety and can lead to distracted driving.
Consult Your GPS
If possible, avoid traffic when you can. Many GPS systems and traffic apps can show you where the heaviest traffic is. Stay flexible and open to changing your route if necessary. Sticking to the same route just out of habit, despite traffic, can lend to the feeling of helplessness that traffic can cause. If your job is flexible, see if you can do remote work or adjust your schedule to avoid peak travel times.
Your Horn is for Emergencies
A car horn is not a toy or a means to take out your aggression. Car horns exist for emergencies. The sound is meant to be jolting to the senses and annoying at the very least. The more often you use your car horn to express frustration, the greater your frustration rises.
On the Road Again
CalmiGo is an excellent, portable, medication-free way to control traffic stress. Using CalmiGo for three minutes before you get behind the wheel can help to significantly decrease stress behind the wheel.
When the body experiences stress, it releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. If you become too anxious when driving, those stress hormones can remain in your body throughout the day, long after the traffic is done.
You’ll probably be spending much of your time on the road, it’s important learn how to control the stress from driving so that it doesn’t affect your mental and physical health. So keep calm and drive on.