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6 Ways to Make Your Drive Less Stressful

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road rage driver

Photo: State Farm

Traffic is frustrating on so many levels. Not only does it make us late to just about everything, but the stop and go in itself can be immensely stressful. And if you’re a nervous driver, that makes everything worse. It’s not only traffic that causes sweat to build up on your forehead. It’s everything from changing lanes to parallel parking.

Here are 6 tips for keeping stress at bay while you drive:

  1. Leave at least 10 minutes early: If you only leave enough time to get from point A to point B, you’re causing unnecessary stress. Murphy’s Law tells us that something will inevitably go wrong. When it does, it’ll cause you to be late and get stressed. Stress can also cause us to make hasty decisions that may compound an already frustrating situation. If at all possible, leave your house at least 10 minutes before you think you should—you’ve probably never stressed out about being somewhere too early.
  2. Don’t skip vehicle maintenance: Regular car maintenance can keep your car fuel efficient, which will keep you from stressing too much about gas. But vehicle maintenance can also help you avoid a breakdown. Your auto mechanic will top off your fluids to keep your engine from overheating or freezing. He or she will also ensure you have properly inflated tires, which is a major must for safety. If you think traffic is stressful, just imagine getting a tire blowout at 70 mph. Your auto mechanic should have placed a sticker on your windshield with the approximate mileage for your next maintenance. Do not ignore this sticker. Keeping your car maintained will help you keep your stress levels to a minimum.
  3. Keep your car organized: If you travel with kids in the back seat, you know the frustration of feeling blindly around for a sippy cup while you’re driving. You may not be able to avoid this altogether, but keeping your car organized will help you keep some of your sanity. Even if you don’t have kids, it can be stressful to rummage around the car for a tissue box or anything else while you’re driving. Invest in some handy car organizing compartments that you can slip behind your passenger-side seat for easy access.
  4. Download a relaxing playlist: If you’re listening to the news or a podcast on a disturbing topic, your emotions are likely to mimic the tone. In fact, your emotions may mimic anything you listen to. Listen to angry music and you may feel angry. Listen to happy music and you’ll feel happy. Of course, there are exceptions, so find what works best for you to keep you happy and relaxed. If you’re unsure of where to start, try a meditation soundtrack that’s meant for relaxing. If you find that makes you too sleepy, try something a little more upbeat.
  5. Connect your phone to your Bluetooth device: These days, there’s no excuse to look at your phone while you drive. If you don’t already have your phone connected by Bluetooth, get on that, stat. The National Safety Council reports 1.6 million crashes related to texting and driving each year. If your car isn’t Bluetooth enabled, you can get a third-party device to use your phone hands-free while in the car.
  6. Review your route before you leave: GPS devices can be the source of a lot of frustration. They are amazing tools that help us get where we’re going, but they can sometimes be a little off. If it’s truly a stress-free commute that you’re after, review the route before you leave. This way, you aren’t completely at the mercy of your GPS. This will also give you time to ensure you’re taking your preferred route. There’s nothing worse than realizing you’re headed for a series of toll roads when you were trying to avoid them. When you have a general idea of the route, you don’t have to stress about which highway you’re being routed to or whether you’ll have to cross a bridge. You’ll already be prepared.

It’s understandable that driving is a major source of stress for many people. Driving is also an immense responsibility, whether we consciously acknowledge it or not.

When you’re driving, know where you’re going and keep all distractions to an absolute minimum and you should have a relatively stress-free ride.

Also, this should go without saying, but avoiding speeding and running red lights while you’re out on the road. Getting pulled over by the law is about as stressful as it gets!

This is a collaborative article.