This time of year in some parts of the world, many of us will hit the roads to find walls of traffic due to winter weather and holiday drivers. You may leave your home in a great mood, excited for an overdue holiday family get together, then arrive irritated and in bad mood due to a few aggressive drivers. Initially, you were looking forward to seeing family, sadly those feeling of joy have eroded and now you’re just looking forward to a holiday drink.
When driving with loved ones and friends, it’s even more important to be able to keep your cool. Controlling your emotions ensures a safe, enjoyable trip for you and your passengers, and you’ll arrive at your destination fresh and energized.
Driving can be a greatly underestimated source of negativity for many of us. A daily commute in bad traffic or any delay in getting to where you need to go can drain your energy and snowball into a bad day.
Try the following tips to avoid allowing driving to bring you down, and instead of arriving at your destination emotionally defeated, you can arrive invigorated and set yourself up for success.
- Plan ahead of time that you WILL enjoy your trip. As you’re preparing to leave, picture having fun while you’re driving. What do you want to listen to? Any podcasts or lectures you can catch up on? Any new music you’ve downloaded? Prepare your favorite hot or chilled beverage with you, or make plans to stop and get them on the way. What would you like to talk about with your passengers? Anything you’d like to go over with your family? Is there anything you didn’t have time to think about during the week that you can sort out while you drive? Make a decision that no matter how busy the traffic, you’re going to have a great time during your drive.
- Recognize it’s not your job to manage how other drivers behave. It’s a fact that you’ll encounter drivers whose driving you dislike. Fortunately, others are responsible for how they behave while driving. Your job: get yourself and your passengers to your destination safely. How other drivers behave is up to them.
- Remind yourself you’re in control of yourself and your vehicle. The good news is that you’ve got driving knowledge and skill and a car to drive. You make conscious decisions about what you will and won’t do behind the wheel. Make a personal vow to avoid allowing other drivers to negatively affect you.
- Stay cool and drive defensively. Be on the lookout for drivers who are going too fast, traveling too close or driving erratically. Keep your emotions cool when you notice other drivers are being unsafe.
- Make a point to drive in a way that keeps you and your riders safe. If you need to pull off the road for a minute and let a driver pass you, then make that choice rather than remaining in the unsafe zone around them.
- Maintain distance physically and emotionally. Allow plenty of room between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. This way, you’ve got no worries if the vehicle should slow down or stop quickly.
- Even though it’s easy to get annoyed when a vehicle swerves into your lane in front of you, choose instead to remain calm and simply slow down for a few seconds to leave your safety space open.
- Avoid calling drivers names even though they can’t hear you. If you’ve got a habit of swearing, make it a point to avoid doing so while in the car. Using such language contributes to the development of negative emotions. And negative emotions sap your strength and might lead to unexpected challenges. Find a way to avoid cursing while you drive.
- Be the example for others. When you make it a point to drive the speed limit, leave plenty of room between your car and other vehicles, and keep your emotions under wraps, you’re showing others in your car and those in other vehicles how to properly conduct themselves behind the wheel. Be proud of how you’re driving. Take the high road by setting a good example.
- Just let it go. Regardless of what other drivers do that you might find irritating, learn to let go of any negative feelings that start to creep in. Tell yourself, “This situation is unimportant to the rest of my life and not worth getting annoyed about.”
- You’ll feel better about it and the people traveling with you will be relieved. It can be a real teaching moment for any kids or teens in your vehicle as well.
- Remember the old Bill Murray movie Meatballs? Try repeating the mantra in your head, “It-just-doesn’t-matter! It- just-doesn’t-matter!” Remembering that scene in the movie will put a smile on your face and the chant will help remind you that any mistake by another driver, whether intentional or not, really doesn’t matter to you.
When you make it a point to have a pleasant driving experience, you most often do. Put these strategies into action to keep your feelings under control and you’ll find that, not only have you become a safer driver, but also that you enjoy driving more than ever.
If you are traveling this holiday season, the staff at HigherBooks.com wish you a safe and joyful trip.