How to keep calm while driving

How to keep calm while driving
How to keep calm while driving

We need to be totally focused when driving, so it's essential to reduce our stress levels and stay calm. Whether you're anxious, irritable, or relaxed, your emotions affect your driving and your reactions. So you should never allow your emotions to control your actions as a driver, as you may put yourself, any passengers and other road users at risk.

You don't have control over circumstances while you're on the road, but you can control your reactions to them. Here are some tips to help you be patient, keep calm and drive more safely.

1. Adjust your position

It might seem obvious, but a good posture is essential to reduce stress levels while driving. For example, if you find you're hunched over the steering wheel and holding it tightly, relax your fingers and hands slightly and lean back.

Adjust the angle of your seat to a comfortable position. Ideally, it should be at an angle of slightly more than 90 degrees. If your back starts to ache, release tension by stretching your spine.

Try tilting the rearview mirror for a while so that you have to elongate your spine to see what's behind you. And when you stop at a red light, make it a habit to stretch your arms and shoulders to relieve tension in the muscles.

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2. Stay focussed and forget your worries

Most of us have stresses and anxieties in our lives, but when you're behind the wheel, try not to be distracted by worries about home or work. For a start, keep your phone out of sight.

Lower your speed if you need to - the higher your speed, the more information you need to process while driving. Relaxation exercises or listening to podcasts can also help you to stay calm. In addition, Bach Flowers Mix 71 can help you to feel less irritable and nervous while driving.

3. Listen to music

Music affects both our emotions and our bodies, so it's essential that you choose the right music to listen to while driving. Upbeat music can make you more alert and help you focus better, while slower songs are calming and relaxing, helping you to feel less stressed.

Perhaps the best type of music for a driver is one that doesn't require too much effort from the listener. So find some pop music on the radio or listen to your favourite playlist while driving.

4. Take a deep breath

Deep breathing is a great way to relax if you feel tense while driving. A few deep breaths increase the supply of oxygen to the brain and help you feel calmer. Breathe in deeply through your nose and fill your lungs with air, then breathe out through your mouth. Repeat up to ten times to relax both mind and body and prevent anxiety or stress from building up.

5. Allow plenty of time

Give yourself plenty of time for your trip to help avoid the risk of speeding and feeling pressured and stressed about being late. When travelling to a new destination, plan your route so that you can avoid any delays caused by roadworks or heavy traffic.

6. Steer clear of aggressive drivers

If you see a road user driving aggressively, leave more space between your car and theirs. If someone is tailgating and trying to overtake you, let them pass. Don't react by suddenly braking, accelerating or swerving, as this will put your and other road users at risk. Reckless drivers can make any road user feel stressed, so it's best to avoid them to stay calm and reduce the risk of accidents.

7. Be courteous to other drivers

  • Don't honk your horn inappropriately! It's there to warn other drivers, road users and pedestrians of hazards, not to express irritation. If you honk your horn in frustration at another driver, you could be fined up to £1000 ( Highway Code Rule 112). And if you honk at others, it stresses them and increases their anxiety, increasing risks for all road users.
  • On the motorway, indicate that you are changing lanes in good time and look ahead to see if vehicles are merging. Tailgating is one of the major causes of road rage, so allow other drivers plenty of space.
  • If another driver seems upset by your driving, respond positively. It can help to calm the situation if you can indicate that, oops, you're sorry!
  • Always be polite, even if other drivers aren't. And try to avoid making eye contact with an angry road user.

8. Take a break

Lastly, if you're feeling overwhelmed by stress while driving, one of the best things to do is to find somewhere safe to stop and take a break. Negative feelings can impact your driving ability, so take a few minutes to clear your head and calm down, both mentally and physically.

For longer journeys, the Highway Code advises that you should not drive for more than two hours without a break. So aim to pause your trip for at least 15 minutes every two hours.

A final thought

However hard we try not to, we can all get stressed at times - and if you find you're getting agitated when you're behind the wheel, it's essential to take action and calm yourself.

The following tips will help to relieve stress and calm you down quickly:

  • First, if it's possible, pull over to the side of the road and take a break.
  • Take a few deep breaths and count one to ten slowly.
  • Get something to eat or go for a short walk to clear your head.

Have a safe trip!



Marie Pure

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