The Christmas Rush

The Christmas Rush

You’re late for a Christmas party, or maybe trying to get home for a family dinner, or maybe leaving a busy mall… your body becomes tense, you start to feel stressed and anxious. Your blood is starting to boil and anger is creeping in.

‘Tis the season, the Christmas rush is here!

Though you might make an effort to avoid it, chances are, you’ll find yourself in the middle of this season’s madness. And if you’re behind the wheel of a car, that means you’re at an increased risk for a crash.

It’s hard to stay calm in the traffic congestion that comes with this time of year. And those intense emotions can lead to aggressive driving. Or you might do the opposite and zone out. Perhaps making a list and checking it twice, forgetting about the driving task at hand.

Either way, it can be dangerous and lead to unsafe driving behaviour.

The problem with traffic congestion is usually your loss of control. There’s really nothing you can do about the busyness. And if you’re late or have things to do… it can throw whatever patience you have left, out the window.

So what can you do?

Recognize the increase in intense emotions.

Everyone’s different, but you might start to feel your:

  • Heart race
  • Palms get sweaty
  • Grip get tighter
  • Shoulders tense up
  • Temper rise

Relax - If you feel agitated before you even get in the car, take the time to de-stress BEFORE driving.

You can:

  • Take a few extra minutes to get prepared
  • Listen to calming music
  • Do some relaxation breathing
  • Practice mindfulness techniques

Regroup - If you notice frustration start to creep in while driving, you’ll need to keep focused.

You could:

  • Take a break. Pull over, give yourself a few minutes to relax. A short walk or a snack can do wonders
  • Take a few slow, deep breaths
  • Consciously focus on the task of driving
  • Use mindfulness techniques to recognize when your mind starts to wander
  • If music helps, turn it on. If it feeds into your emotion, turn it off
  • If your passenger is distracting, be honest with them
  • If someone else is in the car who’s in a better state of mind, ask them to drive

When all else fails, you just have to accept the conditions aren’t going to change. No amount of stress or aggressive driving will change the situation. And there is no yuletide get-together or gift worth risking your, or someone else’s life for.

Comments

Thanks for the reminder to slow down and stay safe. It's not always easy when we see some kind of deadline looming ahead. Every driver should heed this advice as it just takes one impatient driver to cause problems for others!

Although you may try to avoid it, chances are that you will find yourself in the middle of this season's madness. If you are behind the car's steering wheel, this means your risk of collision will increase as well

This is something rarely discussed. We get stuck in traffic, let our anger get a hold of us and never does it occur to us to take a break - but great advice! It's true that nothing is really that important - but in the moment we think it is. I remember when ICBC had ads around saying relax or something like that. Not a bad idea have reminders for us to de-stress.