How do relaxation techniques help reduce driving stress, nerves and anxiety?
Every time we find ourselves in a stressful situation and we feel under threat we tense our muscles ready to fight, run, freeze or hide. Even when the stressful situation is resolved and the time for action has passed our muscles will often remain tense for a long period of time.
Repeated long-term stress whether generated by everyday life or by driving can lead to long-term muscle tension and muscle tension can lead to pain, headaches, poor sleep patterns and irritability which of course can make us more stressed! These habits are repeated and developed over years until the feelings of being stressed with our shoulders being up by our ears, aching necks and shoulders and sudden flares of anger in response to situations become a normal part of our lives.
Long-term stress affects your attitude, thinking, and behaviour so if you are feeling the effects of stress before you start your journey in the car then it is also likely to have an impact on your driving behaviour. With road safety statistics suggesting that driving error/behaviour could be a contributing factor in 95% of road incidents, it makes sense to start looking at ways of managing and reducing stress levels to improve your driving experience. Read more in this blog from Brake about how your emotions may stop you from driving safely.
Muscular relaxation techniques are one of the possible options for helping you reduce and manage your stress levels as well as the physical symptoms of long-term stress. However learning to relax is a skill which takes practice the same as learning to drive so be prepared to keep practising, think of it as a relaxation training plan (you would not run a marathon without training first!). The Confident Drivers website has a variety of relaxation techniques and audios for you to try – give them a go and then continue to practice with the one which suits you best.
As you practice and learn how to relax you can start to transfer your new relaxation skills into your everyday life. Whenever you experience a stressful situation or event during your day you can practice your new skills to reduce muscle tension and modify your response to stress. This, in turn, will lead to you feeling more in control of yourself and your emotions, feeling more relaxed and increasing your confidence.
Imagine starting your driving journey feeling relaxed and focused and then having the skills to manage your stress response to different situations along the way. Staying calm and keeping your attention on your journey – becoming a Confident Driver!