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Diet & Nutrition

Traffic driving you nuts?

Anxiety accounts for 45 per cent of all mood disorders, according to a recent report published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and for the millions of Australians who commute daily by car, rush-hour can be a major source of stress.

With traffic-related anxiety and road rage now formally recognised as a certified medical condition, how can we ensure we stay stress-free amidst the rush-hour chaos?
The Weekly's Naturopath, Pamela Allardice, suggests taking the ancient arts of yoga, meditation and aromatherapy to the streets with these 12 simple techniques that will turn the worst commute into a calming interlude.
1. Keep your car reasonably clean and clutter-free. When your surroundings are in order, you feel prepared and organised. 2. Place a flower or a favourite photograph on the dashboard. 3. Stock your car with bottled water and a selection of healthy snacks, e.g. trail mix or a fruit-and-nut bar. 4. Wipe down the dashboard, steering wheel and upholstery regularly with a relaxing essential oil. Ylang ylang has a soft fragrance that helps calm anxiety. 5. Avoid gripping the steering wheel: consciously relax your hands and hold the wheel lightly. Make the most of being stuck at a stop-light by keeping a tube of moisturising cream in the glove-box to give yourself a mini-hand massage. 6. Make the "Ommm" sound when you're driving. It’s very relaxing and grounding (and no one will be able to see that you're doing it!) 7. Repeat a positive mantra or affirmation to calm yourself and set your intention for the day, e.g. "I will enjoy today and smile often", "I will keep things simple and move forward one step at a time" or "I will not stress out about the little things". 8. Control road rage. Unless you are in danger, don't honk your horn. Imagine that the driver in front is a close friend. 9. Drive steadily and accelerate or brake smoothly – don't stamp on the pedals or lane-hop, it only stresses you more. How often have you been overtaken by an impatient driver, only to pull up alongside them at the next lights? Speeding doesn't get you there any faster. 10. If you're stuck in traffic, do something to take your mind off the situation, like taking deep breaths, gently rolling your head in circles or smiling at other drivers. See the annoying delay as a chance for some solitude, contemplation and privacy instead. 11. Listen to music that creates the mood you want to experience. Do you want to feel upbeat and energised? Serene or quiet? Whatever music you choose, sing along. Don't hold back – whoop, whistle, hum or thump a bongo beat on the steering wheel – and watch your tension turn to a smile. 12. Heavy traffic elevates concentrations of pollutants like carbon monoxide and benzene inside your car. Prolonged exposure to these may cause variations in heart rate and blood clotting problems. Although these changes are reversible and unlikely to pose an immediate threat to healthy travellers, they may raise the risk for heart attacks and strokes in people with existing health problems. Play it safe and protect yourself against in-car pollution by minimising driving during peak hour. When you're on the road, keep your distance from other cars and trucks. If you simply can't avoid dense, slow traffic, invest in a high-efficiency particle (HEPA) filter, which helps reduce particle concentrations in indoor air.
2. Place a flower or a favourite photograph on the dashboard.
3. Stock your car with bottled water and a selection of healthy snacks, e.g. trail mix or a fruit-and-nut bar.
4. Wipe down the dashboard, steering wheel and upholstery regularly with a relaxing essential oil. Ylang ylang has a soft fragrance that helps calm anxiety.
5. Avoid gripping the steering wheel: consciously relax your hands and hold the wheel lightly. Make the most of being stuck at a stop-light by keeping a tube of moisturising cream in the glove-box to give yourself a mini-hand massage.
6. Make the "Ommm" sound when you're driving. It’s very relaxing and grounding (and no one will be able to see that you're doing it!)
7. Repeat a positive mantra or affirmation to calm yourself and set your intention for the day, e.g. "I will enjoy today and smile often", "I will keep things simple and move forward one step at a time" or "I will not stress out about the little things".
8. Control road rage. Unless you are in danger, don't honk your horn. Imagine that the driver in front is a close friend.
9. Drive steadily and accelerate or brake smoothly – don't stamp on the pedals or lane-hop, it only stresses you more. How often have you been overtaken by an impatient driver, only to pull up alongside them at the next lights? Speeding doesn't get you there any faster.
10. If you're stuck in traffic, do something to take your mind off the situation, like taking deep breaths, gently rolling your head in circles or smiling at other drivers. See the annoying delay as a chance for some solitude, contemplation and privacy instead.
11. Listen to music that creates the mood you want to experience. Do you want to feel upbeat and energised? Serene or quiet? Whatever music you choose, sing along. Don't hold back – whoop, whistle, hum or thump a bongo beat on the steering wheel – and watch your tension turn to a smile.
12. Heavy traffic elevates concentrations of pollutants like carbon monoxide and benzene inside your car. Prolonged exposure to these may cause variations in heart rate and blood clotting problems. Although these changes are reversible and unlikely to pose an immediate threat to healthy travellers, they may raise the risk for heart attacks and strokes in people with existing health problems. Play it safe and protect yourself against in-car pollution by minimising driving during peak hour. When you're on the road, keep your distance from other cars and trucks. If you simply can't avoid dense, slow traffic, invest in a high-efficiency particle (HEPA) filter, which helps reduce particle concentrations in indoor air.

YOUR SAY: Do you suffer from road rage or traffic-related stress? What do you do to stay calm? Tell us below...

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