Monk Tips to Stress Free Driving
*photo by phong/written by phong
Spend a good majority of time in your car? Facing traffic, smog, and unbearable temperatures? I am sure you see all those rude and accident prone drivers chirping away on their cell phones.
Your blood boils. Tempers lash. You feel like screaming, yelling and honking your horn.
By the time you get home, you’re too stressed to relax… or if arriving to work, too stressed to focus.
So how can you prevent this vehicular stress? Try these tips! Maybe you can find the one tactic to get you a sense of peace when you drive.
We start with Monk’s De-Stress Steps. These can be applied to all stressful situations.
Monk’s De-Stress Steps
Breathing and peaceful mindfulness are connected to each other. So it is no surprise that good deep calming breathes can ease the stress when someone cuts you off. When car danger arrives it creates a push of adrenalin into a fight or flight reflex.
Your muscles tighten. Your eyes open wider. Senses and reactions fire at a rapid pace. These bodily reactions are very useful when you must face the dangers. However when the danger is no longer present, your body still functions in this “hyperdrive.” It physically taxes and stresses the normal bodily systems in unhealthy breakdowns.
When you are able to take these naturally deep breaths, it begins the process of return to normal basis. It helps you clear your mind and understand your reactions. In this state, you could slow your heartbeat and de-stress your physical body, leading to distressing your mind.
2. Find the Triggers and Catch Yourself
Start by becoming aware of when you start to feel stress. What moments in driving really annoy you? Is it when the old lady drives super slow? Or when the yuppie wannabe squawks in his cell phone while drifting into your lane? Find these triggers that set off your stress.
Maybe now you react in flipping the bird, and furiously honking your horn yelling blasphemies. Catch yourself. In time you will just flip the bird and honk your horn. Then you just flip the bird… to simply just thinking about it in your mind. When you master your reactions, you won’t even think it and will simply enjoy the ride.
Take it step by step. Of course there will be moments you revert. But just evolve and get better by being aware in these moments and reacting in different ways. Soon you can live the moment and no longer need to “catch yourself.”
3. Expect It
Know its coming. You are not silly enough to believe that these moments won’t happen again. There are reckless drivers out there. That kid will always sneak along the side of the roads during a traffic jam. It is not your job to tell him. Focus on your own journey. The kid will learn; the easy or hard way is his choice, not yours.
This is your car ride. So enjoy it. Don’t let these people get under your skin. These things will always happen. Your choice is to react in stress or calming expectation.
4. Laugh At It
Now that you know these mishaps and stressors will happen, laugh at them when they come. Shake your head at the punk kids blasting their stereos. Laugh and remember that was you way back when.
Laughing will help you turn your reactions from fear to excitement. Those two reactions are very similar, but the look on your face. When these driving triggers occur, you can simply shake your head and chuckle.
You know that you are more powerful that these bad drivers and moments. You will not allow these things to bother you. You are going to make the choice to smile and laugh at the lane-hogging momma.
5. Play Mind Games
So now you expect and can laugh at these moments… well you might as well have fun with it. Create a game that would serve you. Use your imagination.
Make a bet with yourself. How many times can you find other people upset and angry in their cars? Will the numbers exceed 10 today? Be lucky you’re not one of them anymore!
How fast can you calm your nerves after a near collision? What funny scenarios can you conjure in your mind to change your fear into excitement?
Can you reduce your stressful driving moments to nothing more than just part of your joyous, relaxing ride?
Put yourself in their shoes. What are they thinking or feeling right now? Instead of yelling at the wrinkly goggle wearing man, imagine yourself as him years from now. Have compassion. What if that was your own father?
Whatever game you play, the best part is the reward. Keep tally. If you are able to keep yourself at peace for 1 month of driving, buy yourself that new pair of shoes you been eyeing. If it took all your strength to not want to beat that driver silly for almost taking your life, reward yourself with a nice ice cream cone for dessert. Good for you! As you progress, make these rewards more challenging to attain. Soon, the inner peace would be all the reward you need.
1. Get Into Your Zone: Meditation & Music
Do some open-eyed meditation. Be aware and don’t use those mediation tapes that can lull you into a hypnotic state. Drive safe. There are many open-eyed active meditations that you CAN do. Adapt different styles to create a safe one.
Don’t forget to rock out to your favorite tunes. Sing and holler away and enjoy your ride. Why stress when you are a rock star?
2. Chew On It
Chew on your favorite candy or gum. Buy some cinnamon toothpicks to know on. Munch on your favorite fruits and snacks. Of course drive safe while doing this, or you’ll be the kind of driver that annoys you!
This gives you something physically to do and tastefully enjoy.
3. Audio Books
When engrossed in the latest spy story, how could afford missing a scene to stress? Find different audio books to accompany your ride along the way home. Identify with the main character, instead of wanting to heckle the bad driver.
4. You See What I see?
Take your drive as if you were a tourist looking at your neighborhood for the first time. Open your eyes again and again to find new things in your neighborhood. Find familiar faces and comfortable locales. Create visual maps in your mind of your neighborhood.
Enjoy the sights versus sulk in your stress.
Yes, carpooling is an excellent way to reduce wear and tear on our vehicles. It helps keep vehicle emissions low as well. But also, carpooling is a wonderful way to keep the stress low. When others are around, we usually keep our outbursts restrained. Learn to enjoy the company and tell stories/jokes the entire way.
Have deep heart to heart talks. Sing your favorite tunes, or just enjoy the connection in pensive silence. Smile together at the beach ocean view or the kids that play in at the park. Love.
These are some tips. I know you have some you use to ease your stress. What are they? Please share so we can learn!