Last month, we discussed a few of our New Year’s Car Resolutions, things we promise to do in the New Year in order to make our lives on the road a little better. One such resolution was to become a more “Zen” driver.
Especially if you’re accustomed to driving in big cities like Toronto, Vancouver or Halifax, you know all too well that clenched-fist feeling of being aggravated on the road. Whether it’s because of an all-too-common jam on the 401, or because someone cut you off on Commercial Drive, or simply because you’ve had to wait for what seems like an eternity for the lights at Spring Garden and Robie to change – whatever the reason, the resultant road rage isn’t good for anyone.
Short of creating a more hostile driving environment for everyone, road rage (or even its lighter counterpart, “road annoyance”) isn’t good for your health. Those elevated stress levels put you at risk for some serious conditions down the figurative road. It’s far better, for your health and for the safety of everyone around, to learn how to manage stress behind the wheel.
If you’ve recently signed up for a car lease in Toronto and want to make the best of your new vehicle, without having to curse and kick every time someone won’t let you merge onto the Gardiner, take a look at the following list. Here we’ve compiled a list of tips, some from personal experience and others from experts, on how to remain calm on the road.
Leave Yourself Time
One of the chief reasons people get aggravated on the road is because they’re afraid of being late – for work, for appointments, for dinner, etc. If you leave yourself some extra time, with the express assumption that you’ll use that extra time to slow down and just go with the flow, you’ll probably find your stress levels diminish. Every time another driver doesn’t let you in, every time someone in front of you stops with ample time on the yellow, you can just brush it – you’re not in a hurry anyways!
Remember to Breathe
Any doctor, meditation guide or yoga instructor will tell you the same thing – if you want to calm down, to stop letting things affect you so much, start by breathing. Shallow, quick breaths are a signal to the brain that we’re in crisis mode. But long, deep breaths flood the brain with oxygen and stimulate what’s known as the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for calming us down. If you’re ever in a situation that you know might trigger your road rage, just remember to breathe.
Relax Your Muscles
Along with breathing, it’s good to be cognizant of how your muscles are acting. You know a relaxed person when you see them, because their muscles are often loose and their posture… well, relaxed. On the other hand, clenching your fists on the steering wheel, with your shoulders up to your ears, is only promoting further stress and aggravation. As best you can, try to lower those shoulders, un-clench those fists, and let your muscles relax a bit.
Lease a Comfortable Car
The car in which you’re driving can make all the difference. Cramped in a humid car, with an engine that struggles up hills and seats that have long since lost their comfort, you’re liable to feel a little irritated. When you’re driving a new leased luxury car, on the other hand, things are much better. You’re comfortable, and the car handles turns, stops, up-hills and accelerations incredibly well. Also, one of the benefits of car leasing is that you get to replace that car with a newer model every couple years, meaning you’re always driving a comfy, peak-performing car.
Get a Good Infotainment System
A good infotainment system is the superhero’s tool belt for calm driving. A good quality navigational system ensures that you’re never panicking for directions; good climate control keeps you balmy and comfortable; and a stellar sound system can deliver the sweet sounds of a soothing album, fun playlist or engrossing talk radio station. To find a luxury vehicle with a great infotainment system, come chat with one of our leasing experts at Auto One Group today.
Take Care of Your “Hanger”
Hunger + Anger = Hanger. It’s a universal equation. When you don’t get enough to eat, you get irritable, and then you take that irritability out on those around you. If one of the key causes for your road anger is hunger – at the end of a long workday, for instance, stock snacks in your car. You might immediately feel better!
Reframe the Way You Think About Other Drivers
A lot of our driving frustrations are rooted in the way we talk to ourselves about others. “That guy’s a jerk”, or “did that person never learn how to drive?” As fun as they are to rattle off in the moment, those comments promote an antagonizing view of driving, which can up our stress. To remain calm and cool in those situations, reframe those thoughts more positively: “that guy’s sure in a hurry, glad I’m not him”, or “that person seems to be trying their best”.
Know Your Route Before You Go
A missed turn, a disruptive U-turn to remedy it, and all the while fiddling with the GPS to get it started – that’s a recipe for stress. If you want you trip to be as breezy and relaxed as possible, cue up the GPS before you start driving. That way, all you have to do is sit back, relax, and follow directions.
Accept that Lateness Isn’t the End of the World
Say you haven’t left yourself the proper time. And say there’s a car ahead of you going five under the limit. And say you’re catching all the red lights. Rather than let it get under your skin, just reevaluate the stakes: what, really, is the worst thing that will come of me being late? In most cases, nothing.
You’ve leased a sleek, beautiful, sophisticated luxury car, now all you have to do is enjoy it. The best way to do that is to leave all that stress in your slipstream, and drive ahead feeling calm and relaxed.