The average person spends 47 hours a year stuck in traffic! You may not be able to get that number down, but you can find ways to better handle the time.
Step 1: Tighten your grip Squeezing a rubber stress ball is a proven tension reliever. But don’t bother with the ball -- what else are you using that steering wheel for? Just clutch it tightly, hold for five seconds, then release. Repeat until you’re relaxed. This also focuses you on something besides the traffic.
Step 2: Take the scenic route If possible, choose routes with lots of greenery. Research shows that drivers surrounded by greenery become less upset by traffic than those on sterile roads.
TIP: Keep popcorn in your car for aggravating stop-and-go traffic. Eating one kernel at a time occupies your mind while the carbs calm you down. Be sure to buy the healthy air-popped kind.
Step 3: Listen to books on tape People who listen to audio books feel less aggressive and tense in traffic than those who listen to music -- even slow, relaxing tunes. In one study, book listeners were not only less irritable when other vehicles cut them off, but they drove more slowly and carefully.
TIP: Listen to mysteries and page-turners. You’ll get so wrapped up in the plot you may not even mind being stuck in traffic!
Step 4: Use air freshener Use air fresheners in your car. The scent of citrus boosts mood, while vanilla and lavender keep you calm.
Step 5: Sing Singing in your car won’t just get your mind off the traffic -- it also changes your breathing pattern, which in turn lowers stress levels by slowing the heart rate and calming the nervous system.
Step 6: Consider carpooling Consider carpooling. Not only does it allow you access to carpool-only lanes, but research shows that drivers with passengers are less susceptible to road rage, because they’re not as focused on the stopped traffic.
FACT: In a recent survey of 1,100 drivers, those in sports cars, pick-up trucks, and economy cars reported being more stressed in traffic than those in vans, family cars, and SUVs.