Prone to a little road rage? We’re all guilty of sometimes feeling grouchy when we’re behind the wheel. You may have come across another driver who’s not sticking to the rules or simply had a bad night’s sleep.
Instead of letting your stress levels hit the car or van roof, it’s important to keep them in check for both your own safety and those around you. From distracting yourself with music to lowering your heart rate with some deep breathing exercises, there are plenty of great tricks to try when you’re on the road.
Let’s take a look at some easy-peasy things you can do to not only help destress yourself, but also pass the time on particularly long journeys.
Can’t stand the radio? Try a podcast instead
If you’ve tried and failed to find a radio station you love, consider jumping on the podcast bandwagon. These first became popular around 15 years ago and are perfect for passing the time when you’re on a long and boring journey!
Never listened to one before? You’ll discover thousands of different podcasts online, from the educational to the purely entertaining, meaning there’s bound to be something which’ll take your fancy. To get you started, why not delve into some gripping true crime tales with Serial or listen to Louis Theroux’s hilarious lockdown celebrity interviews on Grounded with Louis Theroux?
You’ll find many famous comedians also present their own podcasts, from James Acaster to the fictional, yet hilarious, Alan Partridge. Aha!
For the life-long bookworm (or book avoider…), consider downloading an audio book
Not got time to get stuck into a good book at the moment? Say hello to the amazing invention that is audio books!
They’re perfect for people who drive for a living and you’ll find thousands of titles to choose from on apps like Audible. Transport yourself away from your vehicle with some fantastic fiction or swot up for that next Zoom quiz with your mates by listening to an amazing non-fiction title.
Many audio books are narrated by familiar voices too, from Stephen Fry and Jeremy Irons to Reese Witherspoon and Emma Thompson.
Want to get your heart rate right down? Practice mindfulness
Put simply, mindfulness is when you’re able to fully exist in the moment. You’re not worrying about something which happened before you started work or what might happen in the future; you’re simply enjoying being in the present.
Think it sounds great or it’s all a bit of nonsense? Well not only will it keep you focused on the here and now, it’s also perfect for calming you down and lowering your heart rate. It’s very easy to do and can be a fantastic way of bringing your stress levels right down!
It’s also a great thing to have a go at when you’re on a driving break. You’ll find loads of apps – from The Mindfulness App to Headspace – with exercises which can last for as little as three minutes. Sometimes they have music or feature a soothing voice instructing you on things like deep breathing techniques. Just a few minutes could make a world of difference to your stress levels and set you up for another hour or so of calming driving on the road!
If chart topping tunes don’t do it for you, listen to something soothing
Having the radio switched on or your vehicle hooked up to a music streaming app is pretty standard on long drives. Struggling to stay relaxed, though? You might want to consider switching to a different genre.
There’s been plenty of research on the effects of music on the mind, with certain rhythms and harmonies thought to do a better job than others at relaxing the listener. If you really want your driving tunes to make a difference to your mood, try listening to something with a slower tempo that’ll not only soothe your mind, but automatically make your muscles relax.
Classical music, jazz, easy listening and string instrument tracks (especially the kind used for things like yoga and meditation) have been found to be the best for relieving stress. That’s why your dad used to always force you to listen to jazz in the car! On the other hand, if it’s your mood which needs boosting, switch to a playlist of upbeat pop songs. Having a good singalong may just make you feel a bit more optimistic about the day and drive ahead!
Last but not least, remember to take regular breaks
This is the best advice for a reason. It works. One of the best ways to keep calm on the road? Get off it! Having regular breaks every 30 minutes to an hour when you’re driving will benefit your body and your mind.
Getting out of your seat and having a walk around allows you to stretch out your muscles, take in some fresh air and ultimately relax after sitting in the same position for long periods of time. Focusing on the road and other drivers can also be an exhausting business! Being tired not only puts you at higher risk of an accident, but it can also make you more grouchy and potentially more stressed.
Take a break, relax and recharge before continuing on your journey. You’ll definitely notice the difference in your energy levels as well as your mood!
De-stressing isn’t the only thing you should be thinking about if you drive for a living. Learn some easy tips on staying healthy on the road or get to grips with the laws on regular rest breaks in various EU countries.