It’s the morning rush hour, and your blood has reached the boiling point. You have exactly five minutes to get to work and you discover a major traffic tie-up along the freeway. You see the orange pylons and suddenly realize that you are stuck in a construction zone. The stress of being late for work seems overwhelming.
Or, perhaps it’s 5:30 p.m. and you’re rushing to pick your four-year-old up from day care. A car suddenly veers in front of you and you have to slam on the brakes. You barely avoid an accident. Again, your stress level is rising and you’re finding it difficult to cope.
In today’s world, driving is a major cause of stress. Many of us spend countless hours stuck in traffic jams. There seem to be more cars on the road than ever before. In many American cities, traffic problems are a major public safety issue. And, at times, it might seem as if drivers are less courteous than they’ve ever been.
Another source of stress is the care and maintenance of your vehicle. You have to worry about paying insurance costs, inspection fees, rising gas prices, and basic maintenance bills. The financial stress involved in keeping a car on the road can seem tremendous. Also, you might be saddled with a car that has constant break-downs. If you feel as if your car is not secure, it can be quite a stressful experience.
For parents, chauffeuring children can be quite a stressful time. You might have to referee fights between children as you drive. Or you might have to find innovative ways to keep children occupied during long commutes. Keeping children well-fed in the car can also be quite stressful. In desperation, you might pull into a drive-thru, where the wait seems intolerable.
Driving stress is a fact of modern life. There will always be potholes, discourteous drivers, cranky passengers. You will inevitably encounter traffic jams on your way to work, to the store, or to school. There will always be times when you grip the wheel, wondering whether you’ll be able to make it.
While you cannot eliminate the stress of the road, there are ways to curtail it. For instance, you might consider investing in some restful CDs. Classical music can be quite soothing on a difficult driving day. Or you might like to listen to a CD of nature sounds as you are trying to negotiate your way through traffic. If you don’t have a CD player, cassette tapes are another possibility. Also, if you cannot afford to purchase tapes or CDs at a record store, consider purchasing them at a yard sale or church bazaar. You can even borrow tapes and CDs from your local library. You’ll find that you’re better able to handle the stress of driving with some pleasant sounds emanating from your car stereo.
Another thing you might consider is changing your route. If you inevitably end up in traffic jams on the freeway, consider using residential streets instead. While you might find that your commute time is longer, you might also discover that your stress is reduced considerably when your route is changed.
Another technique that many drivers use is to start out five to ten minutes earlier than they need to. That way, you don’t have to operate under such a time crunch. Those five or ten minutes can make quite a difference to your daily commute. In addition, you might enjoy having those extra minutes to yourself once you arrive at school or at work.
Driving is a necessary daily chore for most of us. The trick is to make it as enjoyable as possible in order to lessen our stress levels. Investing in a comfortable seat cushion or a relaxing back rest can do wonders for our frame of mind. Singing or whistling in the car can be another effective stress-reducer. Playing games with your children—such as trying to spot out-of-state license plates—can be yet another effective stress-reducing technique.
Chances are you will not be able to reduce your stress level overnight. Many of us have become quite used to stress on the road. However, by trying to make our trips as pleasant as possible, we can go a long way to lessening driving-induced stress.