As you already know, stress is part of the job. Between traffic, tight deadlines and long hours of sitting, driving can be an incredibly taxing job.
Learning how to cope with the built up stress that driving causes can help you improve your daily life. Here are 7 tips to help relieve stress.
Signs of stress
There are many signs of stress but many of them are easy to write off as part of “daily life”. However chronic stress can lead to a variety of health problems including mental health problems, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke and gastrointestinal problems.
Signs of stress include:
- Low energy
- Upset stomach
- Frequent colds
- Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
- Nervousness and shaking
- Clenched jaw and grinding teeth
- Becoming easily agitated or frustrated
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Having difficult relaxing
- Racing thoughts
- Forgetfulness and disorganization
- Changes in appetite
This is just an abbreviated list. There are many signs and symptoms of chronic stress and should not be ignored.
1. Eat healthy
It’s hard to eat healthy on the road. But making small modifications to your diet (like no bun on a hamburger) and bringing your own nutritious snacks can make a huge difference. Staying hydrated also helps fight stress and fatigue so make sure to be drinking water while eating your healthy snack. Check out our list of healthy road snacks for some on-the-go ideas.
2. Get out and stretch
When possible, get out and stretch for 3-5 minutes. Stretching can help relax your muscles and ease tension. Sitting all day can put a lot of stress on your body and moving your body around can help clear your head. Exercising as much as possible also helps reduce stress as well as increase your energy and strength. Even taking a short walk can help clear your mind and balance your stress levels.
Meditation is one of the most effective forms of stress busting. It has been shown to reduce anxiety levels over 60% of the time. However, it’s easy to think you have to meditate for a long time or be within a formal setting to enjoy the benefits. But simple breathing techniques are forms of meditation and can be done anywhere, anytime. The simplest of exercise is to breathe in through your nose for 4 counts, hold the breath for 2 counts and then exhale through your mouth for 4-6 counts. Repeat 5-10 times to clear your mind and create instant relaxation. When not driving, meditation apps are a great option if you want to dive deeper in a practice. These guided meditations are customized to certain moods or issues so you can find the experience you want.
4. Be present
Driving all day can be lonely. When you come home, learning how to be fully present with your friends and family can help relieve these feelings. Try to focus and actively listen to what they have to say about their own lives. Instead of worrying about things in the future, stay present in the moment and enjoy everything happening right then.
Getting a good night’s sleep is critical to reducing stress as well as increasing general wellness and health. Ideally, you should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Keep your room dark and cool, turning off electronics before bed and having a nighttime routine can help ensure a restful night.
Listening to some of your favorite music, a podcast or an audiobook can help take your mind off a stressful driving situation. Tuning into something that is interesting or stimulating can help focus your mind and relieve tension. Music can also help a great deal. Soothing music is great if it doesn’t make you drowsy, but anything that you enjoy will get the job done.
7. Spend time with friends and family
Take the time to spend time with the people you love and who make you happy. Driving can be very isolating so making sure you take some free time to reset yourself and be present with your loved ones.
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