Direct Line magazine

12 ways to reduce stress on the road

Updated on: 21 May 2024

a man drives a red convertible without a stress in the world

If you find yourself feeling stressed or angry while driving, there are steps you can take to calm your mood and potentially reduce the risk of being involved in an accident. Here's a list of 12 things to think about...

1. Stay alert

Even the best driver can make mistakes if tired. Try and get a good night's sleep, especially before long journeys, and stop for at least 15 minutes every two hours and take your time. You can always call ahead if you're running late.

2. Learn to communicate

Clear communication with other drivers is essential to both your safety and theirs. Make friendly eye contact, avoid driving in blind spots and in conditions of poor visibility and remember to use the correct lights.

3. Revisit your Highway code

Avoiding problems is so much easier if you know what they are in the first place!

Quick reactions won't always stop you having an accident, but spotting and responding to problems ahead in plenty of time will.

4. Plan ahead

A little planning can really reduce stress. Work out the best route to travel and always try to take familiar roads. Allow plenty of time for your journey to avoid feeling pressured to rush

5. Keep your car in check

Breaking down is stressful and 50% of breakdowns are the result of poor motor maintenance. Give your car a weekly once-over and check in for regular servicing and MOTs. You can't plan for all eventualities though, so make sure you have valid breakdown cover in place.

6. Put yourself in their shoes

Don't show frustration by making gestures to other drivers who make mistakes – it could be you on the receiving end! Try to stay calm and avoid provoking or fuelling road rage, which could cause unintended damage.

7. Exercise some etiquette

When traffic is merging, let one car in, then go yourself. Not only is this polite, it will make you more confident in your decisions and reactions. Remember you should be driving like you own the car, not the road!

8. Use driving to de-stress

Try changing your mindset and looking at the journey as something to enjoy. Using your car journey to make the most of precious quiet time alone can actually leave you feeling more serene when you get to the other end.

9. Keep it fresh

Try to circulate as much fresh air as possible through your car and take deep breaths. Shallow breathing restricts the flow of oxygen and can heighten feelings of panic and stress, as can a stuffy or uncomfortable atmosphere.

10. Follow the beat

Choose music that has similar bpm (beats per minute) to your heart rate – about 60bpm is best. Research shows this is the optimum beat to help you relax, de-stress and chill out. In other words, lose the banging techno.

11. Watch your speed

Drive at appropriate speeds for the road environment and avoid overtaking unless absolutely necessary, to reduce feelings of tension.

12. Feeling peckish?

Have something to eat before setting off, as hunger can affect your concentration. However, don't eat at the wheel as this could distract you from driving.

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