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Stress can affect the way we think and feel and even impair our judgement and reactions at times, so it is important to get on top of it fast so we can focus on driving without distraction.
To help drivers remain calm behind the wheel, independent charity BEN has put together some top tips on how to combat stress before driving.
Recognise the warning signs
Below is a list of some of the key warning signs that indicate you may be suffering from stress without even knowing it:
Take regular exercise
Regular exercise can help to alleviate the signs of stress. Going for a walk or run to get some fresh air will help to clear your mind and can help your body to unwind from the stresses of the day before you get behind the wheel. Wait until you feel calm and collected and well enough to head out on your journey.
Try mindfulness and meditation
This may sound a little bit deep, but you don’t have to be spiritual to benefit from a little bit of mindfulness and meditation before you get behind the wheel. Meditation has been shown to reduce anxiety, so if you’re new to meditation, try the Headspace app free trial or a lesson from the Free Mindfulness Project.
Drink and eat plenty
If stress is making you feel ill and you’re suffering from headaches or sickness, make sure you drink plenty of water and eat regularly before you drive. A full stomach will be much better for your brainpower, although don’t eat too much before a car journey as it could make you sleepy behind the wheel.
Write it down
If you simply can’t escape from the stress of daily life, try writing down a list of the things that are stressing you out and set yourself some time to tackle them later on – sometimes writing your worries down and making time to sort them out helps clear your mind.
Proceed with caution
If you’re having trouble sleeping due to stress then make sure you aren’t too tired to drive. If you do feel sleepy whilst behind the wheel, find a safe place to pull over and stop. Research suggests that almost 20% of accidents on major roads are sleep-related so don’t drive if you feel sleepy.