Ever feel yourself tensing up while driving? Or maybe you are not necessarily feeling tense, but your physical body is tense without even realizing it. The next time you go for a drive, take a few moments and observe some of your behaviors and consider following these suggestions to a make your next drive a more comfortable, relaxed and stress-free ride.
1. Notice your grip on the steering wheel. Are you holding on tighter than needed? Allow your grip to be not as tight by softening the muscles and joints in your hands.
2. Notice your posture. Are you slumped forward? If you are, not only will you be straining your back and shoulders, but your breathing will be short and shallow and your body will not receive enough oxygen to perform optimally. Try sitting tall by lengthening your spine and keeping the crown of your head parallel to the roof of your vehicle. Feel your chest and ribcage widen, while the breath becomes longer and deeper with improved posture.
3. Drop your shoulders down and away from your ears, and perhaps let one ear and then the other drop towards the shoulder to get a nice side stretch to the neck.
4. At a red light, or if traffic is at a standstill, take a few breaths while looking over one shoulder and then the opposite to receive a gentle twist to the neck and spine to wring out any stress.
5. Allow your left leg and foot to relax and go limp; perhaps even drop the outside of the left foot to the floor to open up and release the left hip a bit.
6. Notice if you’re clenching your jaw and soften it by creating space between the upper and lower jaw.
7. If at any moment your mind becomes tense or impatient, whether it is due to traffic, poor weather, or any other reason beyond your control, remind yourself that becoming upset will not change your circumstances. Instead, breathe through it. Keep your exhalations longer than your inhalations to calm, refresh and ground you, and let your breath wash away the tension you may be experiencing.