Stressed While Driving? Try These Effective Ways To De-Stress!

Stressed While Driving? Try These Effective Ways To De-Stress!

Let’s get it clear. Stress is an integral part of our everyday lives right from our workspace to back home. Yes, we are talking about stress behind the wheel. If you are one of those who are traveling to work by car, then cutting your way through traffic and reaching your office on time is a major breakthrough. But if your office is located in a congested city, then simply getting behind the wheel can cause a drastic surge in your cortisol (the stress hormone) level.

Several studies[1] have proven that driving through packed roads and heavy traffic can increase stress and anxiety level in the body. Gone are the days when long drives were stress busters and were regarded as a symbol of romance and a way to unwind after a long day at work. We are living in a world where driving on a daily basis can be extremely stressful which in turn can take a toll on the overall health and wellbeing. Before your driving stress turns into full-blown road rage or becomes chronic stress, here are some key tips that can help.

Ways to de-stress when driving

Here are some of the effective ways that you can try and de-stress while you drive daily to stave off stress and driving safely.

1. Plan Your Drive Efficiently

In today’s world, we have the benefit of technology which can help us to choose a faster route or pick a route that is less congested allowing you to cut short the traffic and reach our destination on time. So planning your drive well in advance with the help of technology not only allows you to travel through the route that is least likely to keep you stuck behind the wheel for hours but also helps you to stay away from stress. You can either download apps that help you with traffic or just use Google maps to help you plan your daily commute and driving hours in a better way and get the most out of your travel time.

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2. Practice Deep Breathing

If you know you are to drive for two/three hours daily, why not make the most of it. While you are behind the wheel, inhale and exhale. Deep breathing has a calming effect on the mind, so it is a great option to de-stress during those long hours of driving. All you need to do is to sit calmly, with some soft music and practise deep breathing while you are stuck in traffic. This technique can not only help you to improve your concentration level but also help you to relax as you drive to your workplace or back home amidst the noise of horns.

3. Play Good Music

Did you know that music has great healing properties? Well, listening to music is packed with numerous benefits that range from keeping your heart rate in control to fighting your headache. So do not underestimate the power of a good music. Moreover, science has proven that music is therapeutic in nature and is loaded with health benefits including stress relief. So make sure you have a good collection of songs for your daily drive that can range from instrumental to melodies to help you keep going on a crowded highway.

Music can help you to relax, regulate your heart rate and hormones and also help you to bring down your anxiety levels thereby relieving stress and its health complications. Vibrations from music serve as the perfect way to cover those kilometers with much ease and comfort, so get started with your song collection now!

4. Introspect And Relax

There are days when you are already stressed at work which causes you to lose your cool on road. But this is the time you should be more vigilant and keep your calm. You can either opt for a ME time in such a case which allows you to sit calm while driving back home and help you to introspect. You can think about your weekends or vacation that you had last time. Moreover, it can also give you a perspective on things that are gone wrong and help you to reason out things in an objective manner.

You can use this time to understand what is disturbing you by taking a quick break. You can drop down at your favorite restaurant or a coffee shop for a quick snack or coffee. You can even stop by a park or lush green scenery which not only makes you relax but also helps you to de-stress. These simple tips on your way back home can help to mitigate your cortisol level to a greater extent.

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5. Remember Driving is Not A Competition

Do not wish to be a part of those drivers who drive aggressively but hold your ground and drive safely as this can help you to keep your stress levels to a minimum. Instead of using your horn or snapping at the other person on the road, take a deep breath and hold yourself. Remember that everyone is in a hurry, so act as a considerate driver.

6. Walk Down the Memory Lane

It is a good idea to drive with a friend or a colleague  or carpooling as this can help you to have a good company as you are on the road tackling traffic and stress. If you drive to your workplace with your friend then grab this time to talk about old school days and cherish some fond memories which can help you stay away from stress and cause the release of feel good hormones. Such conversations with friends and colleagues not only rejuvenate you after a hard day at work but will also bring the optimistic you to the core. Sharing your thoughts will help you stay calm and happy as you reach your destination through a crowded traffic.

(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)

Recommended Reads:

How To Avoid Stress At Workplace: 5 Tips That Can Help!

What Happens To Your Body When You Are Stressed?


1. Antoun M, Edwards KM, Sweeting J, Ding D. The acute physiological stress response to driving: A systematic review. PLoS One. 2017 Oct 16;12(10):e0185517.

2. Montoro L, Useche S, Alonso F, Cendales B. Work Environment, Stress, and Driving Anger: A Structural Equation Model for Predicting Traffic Sanctions of Public Transport Drivers. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Mar 12;15(3). pii: E497.

3. Clapp JD, Olsen SA, Danoff-Burg S, Hagewood JH, Hickling EJ, Hwang VS, Beck JG. Factors contributing to anxious driving behavior: the role of stress history and accident severity. J Anxiety Disord. 2011 May;25(4):592-8.

4. Perciavalle V, Blandini M, Fecarotta P, Buscemi A, Di Corrado D, Bertolo L, Fichera F, Coco M. The role of deep breathing on stress. Neurol Sci. 2017 Mar;38(3):451-458.

5. Thoma MV, La Marca R, Brönnimann R, Finkel L, Ehlert U, Nater UM. The effect of music on the human stress response. PLoS One. 2013 Aug 5;8(8):e70156.

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