Inspired living

Tips to keep you calm in the car

Woman driving in the car

Does hopping behind the steering wheel of your car bring out your inner stress-monster? Maybe the jitters strike as soon as the seatbelt clicks, or perhaps unexpected stressors such as congested traffic, a detour or an uncourteous driver turn a usually pleasant trip into a tension-filled journey. Add to the mix a backseat full of squabbling kids, the pressure to keep up with fast traffic or unfavourable weather conditions, and a simple commute can transform the most level-headed driver into a nervous mess!

Here are some tips to help you feel cool, calm and collected on your next car journey:

  • Be prepared. Check your fuel gauge and ensure you have more than enough petrol to reach your destination. A flashing fuel light can cause panic, particularly if you’ve had to make a detour, been delayed or unsure where the closet petrol station is.
  • Time it right. Aim to include a generous buffer-zone of time to counter any unexpected hold ups. Running late equals high stress levels, particularly if you’re headed for a scheduled appointment. Plus, extra time is useful if you are unsure of the route or the parking options on arrival. Get there early? Consider it a bonus and make wise use of your time – call your Mum, do five minutes of mindful breathing or park a little distance away and enjoy walking the rest of the way.
  • Choose your tunes. Favour gentle, calming music rather than frantic, loud tunes which may add to an anxious state. Or use your vocal chords to bust any stress – belt out a cheesy power-ballad at the top of your lungs! Making sound is a great way to diffuse stress. (Just make a considerate decision about having the windows up or down!) Alternatively, ditch the music altogether and enjoy being with your thoughts and taking in the sights and sounds of your journey.
  • Yoga at the lights.  A red light provides a chance to practice a few easy yoga moves. Loop the shoulders up and back a couple of times to release tightness, turn from side-to-side to release a stiff neck. Check that your jawline is soft, relax the tongue and eyes. Take a few easy, soft and full breaths in and out the nose.
  • Practise mindfulness. Simply notice, without judgement, what is going on in the present moment. Notice any physical signals of tension – a tight grip on the steering wheel, tense, hunched shoulders and an impatient attitude indicate stress. Let go and soften. As best you can, just focus on your driving and gently set aside other thoughts.
  • Practise kindness. Driving is a great opportunity to develop patience and tolerance toward fellow drivers. Let the small things go. Be courteous and patient with others, remembering the road is for everyone, not just you. Make someone’s day by giving them a parking spot or letting them in front. Smile!
  • Explore a new route. Freshen things up by going a different way or parking a little further away and walking the final part of your journey. Keep a lookout for interesting things – a new cafe or park, for example.

Too much driving?

Hours behind the wheel can cause the spine to compress, tension headache and fatigue. Try some yoga! Stretch out for a few breaths in adho mukha svanasana (downward-facing dog) to lengthen your back, legs and neck. Here’s what to do:

  • Come to the hands and knees on your mat or the floor. Have the hands at shoulder distance apart, press the hands into the mat. Knees at hip-width apart, tops of the feet in contact with the floor.
  • As you breathe in, tuck the toes under, lift the knees off the mat and glide the sit bones back. Press the floor away with the hands and feet. If your feet don’t comfortably meet the floor, bend into the knees and lift the heels. Take five to 10 relaxed breaths here. Let the inhalation fill you up, let the exhale take away tensions and tiredness. Aahhh…
  • For a little extra, try peddling out the legs for a few rounds; bend into one knee as you lower the opposite heel to the floor.

See you on the road, friends!



Bronni Page is nuts about living a life full of fun, adventure and connection. She’s quite the "word nerd" and uses this super-power as a health and wellness writer, crafting engaging articles to inspire everyday people be their healthiest, most wonderful selves.

She’s also a qualified yoga instructor, specialising in restorative yoga (the super-relaxing, snoozy, cruisy style).

When she’s not writing for clients or embarrassing her three kids with hilarious mum jokes, you’ll find Bronni searching out the best almond cappuccino in her hometown of Newcastle, Australia.