Driving can be stressful because of traffic, aggressive drivers, weather conditions, anxious thoughts, or a screaming child. However, it’s important we keep ourselves calm and collected when driving because when our feelings take over, stressed driving can quickly turn to distracted driving. Distracted driving is dangerous and puts you and your family at risk.
But, how do you calm stressful moments? We’re dedicating our post today to healthy coping techniques to deal with anxiety and stress while driving. These tools can be used to help you stay focused, relaxed, and safe on the road!
What Can A Driver Do To Reduce Stress While Driving
Practice deep breathing and grounding techniques.
Deep breathing techniques are always a good idea when you’re feeling overwhelmed. They’re also smart choices for emotional regulation because they demonstrate good coping techniques to your children. You can do pursed lip breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and resonate breathing safely while driving. (Just don’t close your eyes, of course.)
In addition to breathing exercises, you can also do grounding techniques. They help you refocus and curb anxious thoughts. Some useful ones are the 3-3-3 rule, where you name 3 things you see, identify 3 things you can hear, and then move 3 parts of your body. You can also do “rainbow grounding” where you identify an object that’s every color of the rainbow. These are easy to do in the car and can help a lot to calm you down. (As a bonus, they’re also kid-friendly.)
Relax your body.
When we’re anxious, we often tighten our bodies and clench our jaws. Do a quick body check and identify where you’re tensed. Loosen your grip on the wheel, release your shoulder tension, and just relax all your muscles. You’ll feel much better!
Roll down your window.
Fresh air can do a lot to help us feel relaxed. Roll your window down to bring in some fresh, cool air. Even the sound of the air pushing into the car can be soothing, especially if you have a crying child in the back seat.
If your child is crying, sing their favorite songs.
Speaking of crying child . . . if your child is screaming in their car seat it can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. You’ve probably tried all the safe ways to soothe them, and, at the end of the day, all they want is to be out of their car seat! Of course, they can’t get out, so they’re upset, and you may be getting upset too. In these high-stress situations, try singing your child’s favorite songs or lullabies out loud. It may take a while, but hopefully, it helps both of you relax.
Here are more tips on what to do if your child hates the car seat.
Grab a treat.
Sometimes a treat yourself moment is good for the nerves. You could pull through a drive-through and get a smoothie, a snack, or a non-caffeinated drink. (Caffeine heightens feelings of stress.) If your child is also upset, you could consider getting them a juice or safer car seat snack. Before doing that, read this post on eating in the car seat.
Use prayers, mantras, or manifesting.
If you’re spiritual, spending time praying, repeating a mantra, or practicing manifesting can help calm your nerves. If car seat tantrums or driver anxiety is common in your vehicle, even consider preparing prayers or mantras in advance so that you can pull out the minute you feel overwhelmed.
Listen to calming music.
Calming music is different for everyone. For some, piano music or the sound of rain may be soothing. For others, nostalgic pop music or upbeat EDM may do the trick. Whatever works for you, make a playlist and have it ready for those anxious moments. If stress catches you by surprise, tell your phone: “Hey, Siri, play calming music,” and let her DJ for you while you practice some of the other tips on this list.
Though listening to music may be helpful for some, others may need to reduce stimuli. This is especially true when your child is crying. Your nervous system is probably overwhelmed with sounds and other stimuli. Sometimes, to help you relax, you need to cut as much out as possible. Turn the radio down, roll the windows up, turn your phone off, etc.
You can even get special earplugs that reduce sound and prevent you from going into sensory overload. Loop and Calmer are two trusted brands that’ll still allow you to hear your child and whatever is happening on the road, but in a less overwhelming way.
Take a break if you need to.
If the stress levels have reached an unbearable level, just pull over. There’s nowhere you have to be that’s worth risking your safety. Take a break, and maybe even get you and your child out of the car if it’s safe to do so. A quick walk may help calm your mind and body.
Use these techniques to reduce stress while driving!
Driving is always a risk. Because of this, there’s always room for stress and anxiety! Whether it’s a child screaming in your ear, pouring rain, or a bumper-to-bumper commute, stress can leave you feeling tense, anxious, and overwhelmed. Hopefully, these techniques can help you calm your stressed mind, so you can stay focused on defensive driving and keeping your family safe.
For more vehicle and car seat safety information, visit the Safe in the Seat blog. There, we regularly share plenty of tips and tricks to get your family from point A to point B stress-free!
As an Amazon Associate, Safe in the Seat earns from qualifying purchases.