Although driving is essential for many people, it is also something that causes a lot of stress. There is a lot of traffic, the roads are in bad condition (and sometimes closed altogether), and there are plenty of other issues to be aware of.
The issue is that the more stressed you are about driving, the harder it becomes, and the more you’ll dread getting behind the wheel. This can cause problems in your day-to-day life, not to mention with your overall health. With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to have a stress-free driving experience.
Prepare Your Vehicle
One thing that will always cause stress, no matter what else is happening or how far you are traveling, is a problem with your vehicle. Everything else can be great and you might be in an excellent mood, but if your car were to break down, if you were to get a flat tire, or if anything else happened that mean your vehicle was no longer able to be driven, your mood would quickly reduce and you would become a lot more stressed.
To begin with, before going on any journey, whether it’s long or short, make sure you take the time to check your car. Make sure there is enough oil and water in the engine, and that you have enough fuel in the tank for the journey you are about to make. You should also check that the windows are clean, so you can see more easily, and that the car’s interior is decluttered. The more ‘stuff’ there is in your car, the more chance there is of something distracting you or rolling under the pedals and causing a potentially very dangerous situation.
It’s also a great idea to ensure your vehicle is well maintained. In this way, there is less chance of a breakdown in the first place. If you do break down, make sure you have food and drink, blankets, and a spare phone charger, so you can stay safe and get help if you need it.
Plan Your Route
Something else that will prevent too much stress when it comes to driving is knowing your route well in advance. This won’t be so much of an issue if you know where you are going because it’s local or you’ve been there many times, but if you’re going somewhere new, planning out the route in advance will make the journey a lot more comfortable.
The issue is that we often rely on GPS to tell us where we’re going, and although this is an excellent technology and extremely useful, it does mean that we aren’t prepared in advance. Looking at the route will be a great way to complement the information that the GPS is giving us – especially as these tools are not always one hundred percent accurate. Plus, knowing the route means that if there are any diversions or traffic issues, you’ll know alternative routes to help you get where you are going and reduce your stress levels.
Another benefit of knowing your route is that you’ll know where you can stop if you need to. Driving when you’re tired or stressed can be dangerous, and pulling over for a short while to rest and relax will make the rest of the journey easier. By planning your route, you’ll be aware of rest areas and know when you can use them.
Relax Before You Drive
If you get into your car feeling tense and stressed, the rest of the journey will be tense and stressful, even if there are no extra factors that would make it like that. This is why it’s best to make sure you relax and practice some self-care before you set off on your journey.
When you know you are taking a drive, spend some time taking care of yourself beforehand. Make sure you eat, for example, and that you are completely hydrated. Try some deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. Perhaps you could listen to music or read a book. Whatever it is that relaxes you, try doing this before you start driving and you’ll feel much better behind the wheel of your vehicle. Of course, one thing you should not do before driving is drink alcohol, even if this is what relaxes you. Drink driving is illegal and dangerous, and you’ll need the help of expert drink driving solicitors to help you if you are found to be driving under the influence.
Adopt Defensive Driving Techniques
Defensive driving is a crucial skill when it comes to driving in a stress-free and safe way. There are several different things you can do that will help you drive more defensively, including being completely alert and aware of your surroundings (so you’ll need as few distractions as possible in the car). Another good idea is to maintain a safe distance between you and the cars around you so that you have enough reaction time if need be.
When you can anticipate what other road users (drivers and pedestrians alike) are going to do or are most likely going to do, you can react in the right way to ensure you aren’t taken by surprise, which is stressful, but which can also be dangerous.
We all want to get where we are going as quickly as possible, but sometimes, that isn’t going to be very quickly at all. If there is a lot of traffic, roadworks, or other drivers are being slower than you would like, for example, then it might take you a little longer to arrive at your destination.
You can get stressed about this. You can get angry and start to curse and try to get around people (potentially driving dangerously), but this is not going to help you. It won’t change the situation and it won’t make you get where you want to go any faster. Plus, when you do arrive, you’ll be stressed and unhappy and unable to enjoy whatever you have planned.
The best thing to do is to learn how to be patient. The more patient you are, the less stressful any of these issues will be. This is not always an easy thing to learn, but with practice, it can be done, and it will make life much less stressful.