A long, smooth drive is one of the things we crave the most when life gets too stressful. Something about being behind the wheel while listening to our favorite music and gazing at glorious views calm our nerves as if by magic. And if we’re joined by our friends, long drives feel even more right.
But if you’re upset, angry, or just generally feeling miserable, will a drive be effective in calming you down? If you tend to hop into your car whenever you feel like unwinding, you’re probably used to driving while not exactly in the right state of mind. Still, some factors on the road may affect your peace and possibly increase your bad mood instead of relieving it.
Aggressive driving and road rage are the two major causes of fatal road accidents. Speeding, which was a primary factor in 56% of fatal road accidents in the U.S. from 2003 to 2007, was motivated by aggressiveness. According to other statistics, 33% of traffic accidents could be linked to behaviors associated with road rage.
Considering the potential effects of your temper on your driving, you should pause and take a breather before grabbing your car keys. Perhaps by doing some breathing and mind exercises, your desire to zoom along the road while in a bad mood would subside.
But really, what makes driving so satisfying that we’re willing to risks our safety for it?
Driving Clears Our Mind
Spending time alone is the best cure for stress, but it’s hard to get that when you live in a crowded, busy area. But if you have a car, you can grab your keys and go; instant solitude to temporarily keep you away from the things that overwhelm you.
According to research, solitude has countless benefits for our mental health. And as for driving specifically, experts say that it’s vital for our mental health during the pandemic. Since a lot of us are feeling out of control these days, driving can help us gain a sense of freedom again, especially if we’ve been holed up in our homes for several months now.
Driving is also beneficial for people living in toxic households. Even if you don’t have a destination, simply steering the wheel and daydreaming gets your mind off the things or people that upset you. You can even come up with solutions to your problems as you concentrate on your way.
Driving Stimulates Mindfulness
When our work and personal commitments seem endless, we forget to enjoy simple moments. We lose our mindfulness, leaving our emotions all over the place.
As such, we also lose our connection to our surroundings, particularly in the outside world. For that, driving is the quickest fix because it gives us a welcome change of scenery, reinvigorating us in turn. It stimulates much-forgotten mindfulness, giving us an opportunity to practice simple meditation.
You don’t even have to concentrate hard to achieve quality meditation. Mindfulness comes in many forms, including breathing exercises and practicing gratitude. Therefore, keeping your hands firmly on the wheel and taking in the sights before you already supplies you with the mindfulness you need.
Driving Enables Us to Unplug
One of the things that stress us the most, yet we need every day is the internet. We check our work emails obsessively every day and immediately feel anxious if we pass an hour without doing so. When we’re bored, we’d also whip out our phones and browse our feeds, only to feel insecure later because of the enviable lives our peers appear to be enjoying.
But if we can spare some time for a drive, we can unwind without the internet distracting us and pulling us down. We won’t feel obligated to answer texts and calls because our eyes should be on the road. And again, we can achieve mindfulness because our focus will be shifted to the sights and sounds outside.
Driving Diffuses Anger
Stating that a drive can diffuse our anger does sound like an ironic counterclaim to the statement about aggressive driving and road rage above. But still, if you know how to control your emotions well behind the wheel, then driving is a safe de-stressing activity for you.
Being calm while driving doesn’t have to be hard. Sure, the other motorists can be annoying and inconsiderate, but you don’t have to absorb their conceitedness, too. The moment you find yourself starting to disregard road line paintings and signs, slow down, pull over, and take a moment a calm yourself.
Resist the temptation to make rude gestures to an aggressive or raging driver. Instead, channel pleasant thoughts into your brain, and you’ll find yourself working better under stress rather than quickly resorting to a temper tantrum.
Therefore, every time you drive in a good mood, use that experience to gain all the mental health benefits of driving, and you’ll make it a safe activity for you, even at times when you’re at your boiling or breaking point already.