Since I started using deep breathing and meditation to help me calm my racing thoughts at bedtime, I’ve found myself using the same techniques in daily stressful situations.
I have always found driving to be stressful. It’s gotten worse since being involved in two major car accidents that were caused by other terrible drivers. Both accidents left bruises and scratches where the seatbelt did it’s job, and caused some long-term anxiety, especially when I see brake lights.
When I’m driving, I’m constantly aware of how quickly something can go wrong, and it raises my stress levels to extremely uncomfortable level. I also find myself wanting to get out of traffic and into the front of the line, where I can see the open road ahead of me.
Unfortunately, as many of you experience daily, I do not live in a quiet traffic area. I live in the Greater Toronto Area, and our city of Burlington is growing rapidly.
I don’t have a long commute to and from work, but that doesn’t keep me from getting impatient with other drivers. My pet peeve is cars who cut me off to drive slow in the fast lane.
TURNING RAGED INTO RELAXED
First, I find myself getting anxious. I’m annoyed, I want to fly around them, but it’s busy everywhere. I am forced to stay where I am and be angry or make an aggressive, and potentially unsafe move.
I take a deep breath, back off of the accelerator (and detach from the bumper of the car in front of me) and tell myself, “I would rather be safe than first.”
Then I take a few more deep breaths until I feel my anger levels and blood pressure lower.
Other variations include, “I am not the most important person on the road.” and turning the radio to a happy song, and choosing to sing along instead of showing my middle finger to other drivers.
You can’t stop yourself from reacting, because you’re human, and people truly are terrible drivers. But you can stop yourself from reacting in a way that puts your own safety and health at risk.
Catch yourself, take a deep breath, and say “I would rather be safe than first.”
Or “I am not the most important person on the road.”
Or “I am almost home! My glass of wine awaits!”
Whatever message you need to hear in that moment to calm you down.
Then breathe, and be safe.