U.S. commuters in urban areas lose on average 54 hours per year to traffic delays due to clogged highways, according to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s 2019 Urban Mobility Report. Among the country’s 15 most heavily trafficked roadways, that average spikes to a whopping 83 hours. That’s nearly three and a half days stuck in traffic!
The numbers alone are stressful enough. You might not be able to control traffic, but you can control the way you react to it.
Follow these tips to prevent road rage and find your zen while you’re stuck in traffic.
1. Just Breathe
Deep breathing is a helpful way to alleviate tension in any situation, and it certainly comes in handy if you want to prevent road rage. Instead of stressing out the next time someone tailgates you, cuts you off, or lays on their horn, focus on your breath and the road ahead. Pay attention to your breath as you fill up your lungs, and as you exhale.
2. Curate a Driving Soundtrack
Research suggests that music can affect your mood, heart rate, and blood pressure while driving. Researchers put participants in a simulated traffic jam, which caused cardiovascular activity to spike. Cardiovascular activity increased even more among those listening to aggressive music or no music at all. However, participants who listened to soothing music experienced reduced cardiovascular activity.
If you find yourself routinely wound up while driving, try listening to a relaxing playlist, audiobook, or podcast. It can provide a safe level of distraction from the frustration of your commute. Just try not to listen to any deep relaxation or meditation recordings — you’re trying to stay calm, not fall asleep behind the wheel!
Splitting the driving responsibilities with your spouse, neighbor, or coworker is a great way to prevent road rage. You’ll stress less, produce fewer carbon emissions, and save money on gas. You may even be able to bypass traffic if your commute includes an HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lane for carpoolers like you.
4. Be Proactive
Traffic is unpredictable, but you probably know how much time it generally takes you to get to work. Be proactive and see what else you can do you prevent traffic from being such a constant issue in your day-to-day.
- Budget a little extra time into your commute. If you do encounter a bumper-to-bumper backup, construction, or other delays, you’ll still able to get to and from work in a reasonable amount of time.
- Experiment with leaving at different times or taking alternate routes. You may find that leaving your home just 15 minutes earlier or later makes a huge difference.
- Explore other ways to get to work. If the thought of sitting in stop-and-go traffic stresses you out, you might prefer taking side roads where traffic moves more steadily — even if it means going a few minutes out of your way.
- Anticipate delays, especially during inclement weather. Traffic is always worse when it rains, so budget in a little more travel time if you can.
5. Adjust Your Work Hours
Ask your boss if you can work from home one or two days a week or if you could come in earlier and leave earlier to avoid peak traffic times. Or, if you could avoid the worst traffic by leaving an hour earlier, but your work hours aren’t flexible, why not use that hour to work out or take a walk in your neighborhood before heading in?
6. Get Your Stretch On
Sometimes a good stretch is just what you need. Car yoga is a great way to find peace and tranquility on the road, as long as you’re not actively driving. One simple yet satisfying stretch you can do while you’re at a complete stop is a hand stretch. Reach your arms over the steering wheel and flex your hands, spreading your fingers. Hold for a few seconds, then stretch your wrists. Then, work through each of your fingers, bending them backward and forward to release tension. Don’t forget to breathe.
7. Remember That You’re in Control
Why let another driver who you don’t know and will likely never see again affect your mood? No matter how frustrating another driver’s actions may be, only you are responsible for how you react.
That said, if you do something that makes you feel like you’re not in control or another driver does something that makes you feel unsafe, pull over to a safe place to collect yourself. Safety is paramount, and being stressed out could affect your driving.
8. Change Your Perspective
What purpose do anger and frustration serve while you’re gridlocked? Soaring into a fit of road rage isn’t going to help you reach your destination any faster. Have you ever heard the saying that it’s not about what happens to you, but how you react to it? Instead of working yourself into a frenzy, assess your perspective. What can you change about your attitude to dial back the stress?
Don’t Stress Over Driving — or Your Insurance!
Traffic isn’t worth your worry, and neither is wondering whether you have the right car insurance. To get a free quote, call 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732), click, or come into a Direct location near you.
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