Stress affects us all at one time or another – whether it’s down to work, home life or a tough situation you’re facing. Stress can affect how we feel physically and emotionally, as well as impair our judgement and our reactions, which isn’t good news when we need to concentrate on something significant, such as driving.
It’s important to recognise how you feel and then try to relax yourself before getting in the car. To help you stay calm behind the wheel, here are 8 tips on what to do if you feel stressed before getting into your car and hitting the road…
1. Go for a short walk around the block to get some fresh air and unwind from the stresses of the day.
2. Wait until you feel calm, collected and well enough to head out on your journey. Driving itself can be stressful, especially in rush hour, so if you are already stressed, this is likely to make matters worse.
3. Try mindfulness and deep breathing before getting behind the wheel. You don’t have to be spiritual to benefit from mindfulness and meditation – anyone can meditate and it has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.
4. If you’re feeling ill from stress with headaches or sickness, make sure you feel well enough before you drive. Drink plenty of water and get some fresh air. Consult a doctor if necessary.
5. Write down a list of the things that are stressing you out and set yourself some time to tackle them later on – writing your worries down and making time to sort them out helps to clear your mind.
6. Is stress causing you to struggle with addiction to alcohol or nicotine? Be aware that these could still be in your system before driving. If you’re struggling with addiction or substance misuse, it’s important to seek help.
7. If you’re having trouble sleeping due to stress, make sure you aren’t too tired to drive. If you feel sleepy whilst behind the wheel, find a safe place to pull over and stop – not on the hard shoulder of an expressway.
8. Tell someone you trust how you feel. Sometimes, opening up about our problems to loved ones can make all the difference and they can even help you find solutions. As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved.