We’ve all been there. The traffic is nose to tail, you’re late and there’s no way you’re going to get to your destination in time. How do you deal with the stress without turning into Godzilla?
When the traffic updates on the radio tell you you’re not going anywhere, switch off the background noise and don’t let those perky drivetime DJs drive you up the wall. Instead, put on a calming playlist of sad songs. Researchers from John Moore’s University in Liverpool found that blood pressure rose in traffic jams and stayed high if drivers listened to loud or aggressive music. When they listened to soothing music or a teary ballad, however, there was no increase in blood pressure.
You might feel like punching the steering wheel, but if you reframe your thoughts and move them onto more positive aspects, it can really help to calm you down. Remind yourself that at least you’re safe. At least you’re in a nice dry car and not walking in the rain. Yes, when life gives you lemons, accept them gracefully, then imagine putting them in your gin and tonic when you get home.
When you’ve told your boss the bad news or made alternative plans, there’s really nothing to do but sit there. This is FREE TIME. A bonus half an hour or so to yourself! OK, so you might be looking at the rear end of a bus rather than a view from your beachside hotel room, but never mind. Think, daydream, hatch some plans. You never know, you might have a brilliant, life-changing idea and remember the back of that bus forever.
Experienced van drivers, some of whom spend 12 hours a day in their cabs, are known to play counting games to make the time pass. How many pylons can you see? How many silver cars? Can you make names out of number plates? How many more minutes can you stand it before you go insane?
Adjust your seat, control the climate and make yourself right at home. Release your feet from their shoe shackles for a moment and wiggle your toes. Do some stretches. Make sure you don’t fall asleep, though.
This is easier said than done, but if you regularly find yourself stuck in traffic during your commute, it’s worth developing a few techniques to help you disconnect from the stress and keep road rage at bay. If you feel angry, notice the feeling, acknowledge it, then try to let it go. Do the same for anxious thoughts about being late. Dealing with everything moment by moment helps you manage negative situations, and the traffic will be moving again before you know it.