Driving can be stressful. Driving in traffic can be stressful. Driving in commute traffic on a Los Angeles freeway when you do not know where the off ramp is can be very stressful.
Some people do not like driving, or more specifically, do not like driving in traffic on freeways/highways. I grew up in Southern California and usually find freeway driving to be a friendly challenge and usually less stressful than driving in stop-and-go street traffic. So, I am in Los Angeles for a visit after offering a presentation near San Diego and can admit that there are many vehicles flying around the “Southland” with reckless abandon. My travel maps are from 1988 and the numbers of the highways have changed. (When and why did that happen?) So I took the wrong off ramps a few times… so what. I could have gotten mad or upset but I was in the “right” mood and found it all pretty entertaining. Since I was not in too much of a rush, it did not seem to be life-threatening.
Due to this recent experience, I decided to write this blog with reminders on how to survive, more gracefully, your driving experience.
First, FOCUS… pay attention! Turnoff any unnecessary distractions such as your loud music/radio, your telephone, your loud passengers, and television (yes, though it is illegal, I have seen people driving in LA with TV’s on their dashboards…) Do NOT Text message while driving even if you are addicted and even if you feel you must post to your “Facebook” or Twitter page. Focusing on driving, while driving, seems like a silly thing to remind you about but look around, many people get bored with steering their vehicles and need additional activities including telephoning, eating, grooming, reading, note taking, etc….
Learn to relax. This does NOT mean closing your eyes while driving. It does include letting your shoulders drop to a more comfortable position, especially if they are up around your ears… Check your forehead and your jaw, and allow these to loosen. Breathe slowly and allow this to reduce your anxiety or fear because it is something that you can control…
Finally, you can distract yourself from annoying stress or anxiety by looking carefully for any natural beauty or unusual occurrences that manifest outside your vehicle, without losing focus on what is going on in front and to the sides of your vehicle. Some people engage in a game of finding a new discovery on every commute. Look carefully and note this new item even if it is a cloud formation or flock of birds. Remember that no matter how much fear, anger, or anxiety you feel while driving, you will not get to your destination any faster, or probably any safer, by being preoccupied by these stress filled emotions.
Breathe slowly, eyes open (paying attention (FOCUS), and allow enough time so you are NOT anxious about getting there on time.