Surviving Driving: 6 Simple Things to Remember for Stress-Free Driving

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Written on 10/08/2008 by Maria Murphy. After being a psychotherapist for 30 years, Maria developed Simply Put Together, a system that simplifies the organizational side of life while also inserting the element of simplicity that most seek. You can read more of Maria at Simply Put Together.Photo Credit: Women, Fire & Dangerous Things

Stress-Free Driving

Here are some simple changes I made in my own life for stress-free driving. Try any one of these and you will be on your way to a simply stress-free ride.

    1. Skip the NASCAR ride
      If you feel the adrenaline rush of putting your pedal to the metal, racing that red light, or riding someone’s bumper, you definitely need to remind yourself to save that behavior for the race track! Chances are, if your adrenaline is pumping you should be on the speedway, not the highway! As an aside, that adrenaline rush can seem harmless, but over time, the impact of the constant “stress response” will add up on your body. 
  • You are not in a time machine

    How many of us have gotten behind the wheel, determined we can make up for being behind schedule? In truth, we should be getting in the car with time to spare because we cannot predict traffic, weather and the like. Stop seeing your car as the time machine that will make up time lost from being behind schedule. Give yourself a bit of extra time instead of trying to squeeze a trip into unrealistic parameters. You will feel better, more relaxed. 

  • No more bumper cars!

    Leave plenty of room between you and the driver in front of you. This is one of the oldest rules in the book and one of the most important. One of the biggest causes of accidents is tailgating. Teach yourself to practice what we all learned in driver’s ed. It could save your life, but guaranteed it will lead to a less stressful ride. Every time you hit those brakes and have a close call, you are doing a number on your car and your stress response system. Why not save your brakes and your body for the real emergency? 

  • You are not at home

    Nix the cell. Metropolitan areas have begun banning cell phone use while driving. In cities like New York and Chicago, you will get yourself a ticket for chatting while you drive. The research is in. Driver’s reaction times while on cell phones are similar to reaction times of people with high blood alcohol levels. Forget putting on makeup, jotting down notes, or eating. Concentrate on what you are doing instead. Consider the freedom you will feel when the only thing on your mind is driving. 

  • Forgive the “stupid factor.”

    You know what I mean. The person in front of you, who doesn’t signal, cuts you off or does all manner of stupid things. Forgive it. Most of us have our own fair share of stupid moves behind the wheel. Let it go and the stress will leave with it. Don’t let someone else’s dumb move ruin your day! I have seen people talk about other’s silly car moves all day long! Don’t bother! You have better things for your mind to focus on! 

  • Create a peaceful zone in your car

    Listen to music or books that relax, not rile you. You can have a scent in the car that is calming. Keep your car clean and organized. This is easy. Clean out your car once a week and bring calming scents or music with you. You will set a more relaxed tone and when you need something, like a napkin for that spilled coffee, it will be at your fingertips. 

Driving can be a relaxing and safe environment, when you decide to make a couple of simple changes. Give a couple of these a try and see how it goes. Good luck and drive safely!

Maria

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