Do you find yourself gripping the steering wheel so hard it seems like you'll leave indentations? When you get home is your neck and back so stiff they actually hurt? Does your heart pound when someone comes screaming up behind you and doesn't slow down until they're almost on top of you, and then honks their horn because you're in their way? Do you dread the morning and evening commute? These are signs that you're stressed to the limit and in need of relief. If it continues you could be in for a more serious problem--uncontrolled stress can lead to asthma, fatigue, hypertension, insomnia or a number of other diseases. If any of this sounds like you, it's time to find a way to reduce your stress level while driving. The following tips may help. Get Enough Sleep Probably the most useful tool in reducing stress is to make sure you get enough sleep.
- -Being well rested can help you deal with the idiocy of other drivers.
- -Not having to worry about being groggy on top of the usual stress of the commute will help you concentrate on your driving and not be overly concerned about what other people 'might' do.
- -Getting enough sleep will help you be vigilant, but relaxed. You will be able to pay attention to what goes on around you without trying to 'drive' the other person's car.
Leave Early Make sure you have everything you'll need for the day in a place where you can simply pick it up and leave. If you have to spend 15 or 20 minutes searching for your briefcase or car keys you're already raising your stress level before you even leave the house. Give yourself extra time to get to work. Leaving early so you don't have to worry about a few minutes delay along the way will help you stay relatively stress free. Get Comfortable Being comfortable is extremely important. It will help you keep your mind on your driving and not become agitated over every little thing. Consider the following ideas:
- -If it's cold outside make sure the car is warm and comfortable before leaving the driveway. If it's hot, turn on the air conditioning.
- -Make sure your mirrors, seat and seat belt are adjusted so you don't have to be fooling with them while driving. The more relaxed you are before you actually hit the stressful part of the drive the easier it will be for you to handle a traffic jam or being cut off for the zillionth time.
- -Wear clothes that are loose fitting, not tight and constricting. Throw your suit jacket in the back seat and put it on when you arrive at the office.
- -Listen to music that soothes you, and leave the cell phone alone.
- -Whatever stresses you the most inside your own vehicle, like not being able to reach your change for the toll booth, should be dealt with in advance. You and your vehicle are the only part of your stressful commute you can actually control. It's the cumulative effect of small things during the commute that cause your stress. Concentrate on changing the little things, the minutia you can do something about.
Change Your Schedule If possible rearrange your calendar once in a while to avoid the brunt of rush hour traffic. It may help to try and change your work schedule so you can work a few hours at home and leave after most of the traffic has cleared out. If that's not possible try going in early and relaxing for a few minutes before work. You'll beat the traffic and most likely brighten up your entire day. After work take time to catch up on personal errands that may be close to the office. It'll allow traffic to thin out and make the drive home more pleasurable. Stay Positive It may sound trite, but the single most important thing you could do to reduce stress while driving is to make the decision to not let the little things bother you. There is power in positive thinking.