Traffic jams, road construction and the constant barrage of brain-dead drivers can add to holiday stress for many of us and, sadly, these conditions don’t disappear after the new year.
However, there are a few things that Portland drivers can do to decrease stress levels and increase driving enjoyment this winter.
Anticipate road conditions
Before you head out, check road construction and travel conditions updates provided by state governments. For Washington, go to http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Regions/, select the region in which you plan to travel, and review the information before you get on the road. In Oregon, use www.tripcheck.com.
Keep your cool
Before you head out to take on the traffic, these in-car yoga tips can help you feel better through breathing and stretching. Get yourself loosened up and calmed down before you even start the car.
Breathing – Breathing is key when combating stress, so it’s important to first start with a relaxed rhythm to help calm you down. Take long, slow, deep breaths to immediately release tension. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth for at least four counts. Breathing regularly will help soothe your brain and body to cope with traffic jam stress.
Stretch Your Neck – After a long day sitting at the office or in your vehicle, your neck is prone to be tense. With both hands on the wheel, keep your shoulders down and slowly roll your head in a full circle, in both directions. If there’s a certain spot that needs some extra stretching, hold your stretch a bit longer. Then, keeping both hands on the wheel, twist to the right and left, as if you’re checking your blind spots.
Stretch Your Back – When you are at a complete stop, raise your hands up, and inhale deeply. While you exhale, fold your body forward so that your upper body is hanging over the steering wheel. Take a few deep breaths; this will loosen up your muscles. Then cross one arm across your chest and use the other to pull your elbow in toward the body, and reverse. This weight of the pull will release tension in your lower back.
Rotate Hands and Feet – Driving requires using both your hands and feet, so it’s important that they are not stiff and tense. At a complete stop, clasp your hands together and rotate them twisting in a circular motion. This will help to release tension and circulate blood flow. At a complete stop where you’re able to put your car in park, do the same with your feet, twist each foot in circular motions.
Organize your ride
If you struggle to find room to stash your things every time you return to your vehicle, take a few minutes before you head out to make a “clean sweep” of your vehicle. Chances are that you’ll find lot of things to throw into the trash (including leftover toys and food found in car seats). Any items that you don’t use regularly or in event of an emergency should be stored in your trunk or garage. Loose objects can be efficiently and safely stored in a variety of cargo containers and organizers commonly found in the automotive accessory aisles of many stores.