“Motional” Baggage: Locating The Reasons For Your Driving Stress

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When people talk about emotions behind the wheel, usually the first thought goes to road rage, but this is only one part of a bigger web of problems when it comes to emotions behind the wheel. Driving stress is something that can impact anyone, regardless of their experience. While it’s more common in the novice driver, with the increasing amount of traffic, not to mention the multitude of distractions out there, we can all feel somewhat emotional behind the wheel. So, when we are looking at tackling the issues behind our own individual driving stresses, what do we need to think about, but also, are there any logical solutions?

The People We Drive With

The attitude we have towards driving can stem from deep-seated emotional traumas, but these can continue to bear down on us throughout our driving life. If we don’t have much confidence behind the wheel in the first place or learning to drive was an arduous task, but we did it out of sheer necessity, we can still find that we are battling with the wheel from time to time. The anxieties we have in the car can get compounded when we have other people in the vehicle with us. The situation isn’t always avoidable, and as much as we’d like to drive by ourselves all of the time, we all have duties to maintain. This means family members, even those critical parents of ours, can easily make our attention waver from the road. Backseat drivers get the majority of the blame when it comes to our own stress behind the wheel, and with good cause. We don’t want our skills scrutinized, and after all, our goal is to get people to their destination safely. We don’t criticize someone else when they are not changing gears smoothly enough! While the logical solution to minimize this type of stress is to get rid of everybody else, this isn’t practical. Instead, if you have a specific beef with someone, it may be worth having a polite word, but also, exposing yourself to that stressful environment, bit by bit, will slowly increase your confidence. Much like when you were learning to drive, the more you got used to it!

The Car Itself

Do you have a car that you are unable to drive? All you could afford was a cheap vehicle, and you were under pressure to get something quick because you needed to get on the road. This is one of the big mistakes we all make when it comes to buying a car, especially at the very outset of our driving lives, we go for cost over anything else. The quality of the car will say a lot about how easy it is to drive. But we still take the opportunity to go for that second-hand Cavalier over something brand new. And, it’s not really surprising that we do this. But, when you are looking at buying a new car, while you might want to go for something that is easy on your pocket, there are still many car dealers that can give you a pre-owned vehicle that is well maintained. There are numerous Chevy dealers that can give you a vehicle that’s easy on the pocket, but it’s something you could drive too! The fact is, the older the vehicle is, the more effort we have to put into our driving skills. But for some people, driving doesn’t come naturally. There are those that are constantly stalling the vehicle because they’re not applying enough gas in conjunction with effective clutch control, and find that the modern distractions, such as satellite navigation, adds to an information overload. It’s amazing that a lot of people actually hate the act of driving, and if you’ve got an old banger that stresses you out, even before you reach the end of your street, this doesn’t make for an emotionally smooth journey.

The Emotional Baggage We Carry

Distracted driving has become one of the main causes of car accidents now and this is predominantly because of the use of cell phones. But, when you think about distracted driving as a general term, we can all easily fall prey to emotional issues that cloud our judgment. It’s something that can go one of two ways. Either if you are going through a bad time, your attention on the road proves to be a useful distraction from your problems, or it consumes you so much that you can’t even focus on the road. We are all prone to moments of stress, but if it dangerously impacts our ability to focus behind the wheel, then we have a problem on our hands. It’s down to you to decide whether you are in the right frame of mind to drive in the first place. The fact is a lot of us drive tired, hungover, or distracted. And we can easily see when others are out there endangering lives, but we seldom notice it when we are the culprits. So, when we are looking at tackling this issue, we need to find ways to shift our focus from our emotional baggage onto the road. This might not be simple, especially if we suffer depression or anxiety. Medication could be the solution here, but we have to remember that certain medications, including antidepressants, can impact our reaction times. When it comes to stress and anxiety, having the appropriate tools to keep us level-headed won’t just benefit us behind the wheel, but in life too. There are so many things out there to reduce our stress, such as deep breathing, or meditation, but it’s also a good idea for us to identify the root cause of our emotional baggage. If it’s something that impacts your life, then tackling the problem, no matter how long it takes, will get you on the road to clarity.

The Time Of Day

Those two dreaded words: rush hour. We know that rush hour is one of the most stressful things anybody can go through, every single day. But, is the time of day directly responsible for your anxieties? We can always pass comment at that idiot who is risking everybody else’s lives on the road, just so they can get to work on time. But we all have these frustrations. Yes, road rage tends to be a more natural by-product, but the notion of defensive driving is something that’s often touted as a solution here, but this is all about driving as safely as possible (something that everybody else on the road appears to not follow as a general rule). It appears to be every car for themselves when it’s rush hour, and so if we find that our stresses are directly linked to the times of day which we drive, especially when we drive to the office in the morning, and from the office at night, we’re not going to fare very well on the road. What can you do about this? Well, there are always working solutions you can change, such as working at home and so forth, but dare you take public transport? For some of us, it’s not feasible at all. But for others, we make any excuse not to use public transport, for the very simple reason that it gets us to work an hour late! But, when you think about the number of traffic jams you hit at a certain time of day, you may develop a sixth sense for when there will be major traffic problems, but there’s always the fact that we can’t predict what’s going to happen on the roads, that maybe, public transport is a temporary stopgap. If you don’t like the idea of taking public transport at all, at least taking it one day a week can give you some emotional respite, so you can recalibrate yourself and get back behind the wheel with some verve.

Driving affects us in different ways. Some people find that it helps them to take their focus off their own lives and onto something important, but others find that the task of driving becomes a grueling ordeal all in itself. Some people take years to finally come round to the idea of driving, and this could be down to various reasons, not just their own personal issues, but the car itself, the traffic, as well as the people we drive every single day. A lot of people grin and bear it, and feel that they have to drive all the time, but this isn’t necessarily the case. But, if you find that your stress levels are through the roof every time you get behind the wheel, you have to fix this, not just for the people that you are driving around, but for yourself. Driving is something that can be a very enjoyable pastime, but if we find that we’ve succumbed to the stress, it can be a very difficult journey to get away from. Yes, driving can be stressful for every single one of us, but if this happens to you every single day, it is time to get yourself in check.

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