You can learn a lot about your driving habits by paying attention to how you feel and what you notice when you stop the car.
Here are six things to try while waiting for the light to change:
1. Gently quiet your thinking and bring more of your attention up and out to your surroundings and to the present.
2. Let your body be supported by the seat and seat-back and let your neck be free enough to turn or nod your head easily. When we drive, we’re affected by the motion of the car, and can subtly brace each time we start or stop. Take a moment to undo some of that accumulated tension.
3. Notice whether you’ve been using a lot of unnecessary effort such as holding the steering wheel tightly, clenching your jaw, or holding your breath. Try bringing your hands to rest on your lap and then bring them back up to the steering wheel while inviting your neck and shoulders to remain easy and quiet. Free your jaw, let your tongue rest on the bottom of your mouth and allow yourself a full exhale and an easy inhale.
4. Let the visual information come to you. In stressful driving moments, it’s common to push the head and neck very far forward while straining to see more. Even when you need to turn your body or lean forward in order to see, can you find a way to do it more easily? Un-do tension in the muscles around your eyes as you receive the visual information you need.
5. This is my favorite one! Notice that there is space and distance between your car and those around you. Periodically reminding yourself of this can be very calming when traffic is heavy.
6. You have time! Even if you’re running late, stressing about it won’t get you there any faster. You’ll arrive happier and in better shape, if you worry less and don’t rush.
Try any of these ideas regularly when you come to a stop, and your driving will be a little easier. Happy travels!