How to Handle Stress While Driving

Stress is, unfortunately, part of our everyday lives. Lately, it’s been even more apparent with the latest pandemic known as coronavirus, which has impacted us all around the world. Stress impacts us mentally and emotionally, but it can also create physical side effects as well.

When we’re stressed out, our breathing becomes faster, our heart rates pick up and our muscles tense up. All these physical side effects end up resulting in our lack of ability to focus. Not only do we feel this in the workplace and at home, but stress can manifest when we are behind the wheel. This can make driving uncomfortable, aggravating, and even dangerous to us or other drivers on the road. That’s why it is very important to learn how to control your emotions when driving.

We have all been there, you are trying to merge onto the freeway, the driver next you will not let you in. They are not paying attention and have no idea you are there. Your anxiety goes up, the horn goes on, and you just can’t believe this driver could be so careless. In moments like this, it is easy to get mad at the driver, speed up your own car, and drive a little more recklessly then you should.

Instead, take a deep breath and try and put this small moment in life into perspective. Will you remember this moment next week? No. Will this impact your day? Probably not. Is this moment worth putting your life at risk? No.

We all know that monitoring and controlling your stress level is much easier said than done, so below are some driving anxiety tips on handling life on the road.

anxiety while driving

Tips to handle stress while driving

Tip 1: Give yourself some extra time.

Many times, stress occurs when we are running late. Sometimes getting up just 10 minutes earlier can help start your day off right. Always anticipate traffic when trying to get to your destination and be pleasantly surprised when you get there early!

Tip 2: Practice deep breathing.

Deep breathing is so important when trying to manage stress. In moments of anxiety, a change in breathing is often your body’s first reaction, even at times that we do not even realize it.

According to UC Health, taking deep breaths allow your body to fully exchange incoming oxygen with outgoing carbon dioxide. Practicing deep breathing has been shown to slow your heartbeat, as well as lower stress.

Deep breathing is an easy step to take to calm yourself down but doing it right does take some practice.

Here are some ways to naturally calm yourself down through a deep breathing exercise.

  • Try taking a deep breath in through the nose.
  • Hold it till the count of three.
  • Release the air through your mouth.
    • Do this till you feel your body calm down. This can help you mentally and physically.

Tip 3: Put the incident into perspective.

We never know the life of the person driving next to us. They could be very similar to you and you may never know. Just because they might have cut you off does not mean they are a bad person. We never know each other’s worries and can try not to jump to judgment with other drivers. We all make mistakes. Sometimes, this little bit of perspective can help make a stressful situation feel lighter.

Tip 4: Accept the situation for what it is.

We can’t always change what’s going on around us. When we can just accept the circumstances we are in, stress can go down. If you are stuck in a traffic jam that is out of your control, accepting that and mentally moving on can help. Rather than change lanes constantly trying to maneuver your way around a situation, acknowledge the fact that today things are different. You will not be stuck in this traffic jam forever.

The bottom line.

Unfortunately, stress is a part of life, and there will be times where it creeps into focus. Just because we all experience it from time to time, it can be handled in better ways so that we can reduce the toll it can take on us. When stress creeps up on you while you’re behind the wheel, it’s important to manage it effectively so that we can keep our cool on the road.

We hope these tips help bring you some ease for the times that you feel yourself getting stressed or anxious, while you’re behind the wheel. As always, stay safe, and enjoy the road ahead!