Maintaining Focus While Driving

3 min read
Managing stress levels will go a long way towards making you a safer driver.

Driving can be relatively challenging here in Singapore. Traffic snarls, inconsiderate drivers and parking dilemmas can all take a toll on us. We can make our everyday commute a better, happier and safer experience for not only ourselves but also those around us. There are techniques to make us calmer and more focused, bringing our stress levels down.

Start by clearing your mind of any problems as much as you can. Do this even before you get into the car. If you are angry getting into your car, you’ll be angry driving — and that is not a safe thing to do. Negative emotions are pretty powerful, and anything that happens on the roads — no matter how small — tends to get on your nerves even more because of this. With anger or worry as a driving force, your driving ability will be compromised.

Keep calm
Relaxation techniques can assist in reducing the emotional burden. When you are behind the wheel, take deep breaths when you start to feel tense. When you are parked or the vehicle is stationary, try the Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) technique, a simple method that involves the tensing and relaxing of all the major muscles in your body. As you tense and then release the muscles from your neck down to your feet, you enable yourself to relax your muscles more thoroughly. This will help you let go of physical tension more effectively.

Avoid heavy meals if you need to drive later on. Heavy fatty foods are liable to slow down our reaction times on the road as well as our ability to remember facts and process instructions.  Being sluggish behind the wheel makes it difficult to focus on the roads, making us a liability to others. Always drink plenty of water and stick to lighter meals before you drive. Think positive
When faced with challenging drivers on the roads, try and give them the benefit of the doubt. Being positive has benefits for both your mind and body. If you let your anger escalate, your rash reaction may be regrettable. The focus should be on driving safely and responsibly; if you lose that concentration and are instead bent on reacting to another driver, you may put yourself — and possibly those around you — in danger.

If you have a hard time reining in your emotions, take a novel approach and create funny or stupid names for these errant drivers. This way, a tense situation is given a light-hearted spin, which is great for your heart and stress level.

Avoid getting into a heated conversation or discussion with your passenger(s) while you are driving. When you are engaging in an emotional debate, your mental focus is distracted. It can be difficult to pay attention to the road when you are experiencing such strong emotions. If you wish to continue the conversation, carry on only when you are parked or out of the car.