WELLNESS--As the holidays approach, traffic is on the rise all across America. For those of us in big cities traffic goes from challenging to downright terrible. While the obvious solution is to not leave ones house, for most of us that is not an option. There are a number of things we can do to help manage stress and air quality while driving on congested roads.
For starters, turn off the news. The majority of new is negative and stressful so getting a quick 15 minutes in the morning and evening should be enough to know what's going on without being submerged in the negativity that the media focuses on. Instead of turning on the news, listen to podcasts that inspire and lift you up. Another option is to use a recording and listening device to make recordings of positive affirmations or insights that can help you feel more centered.
Making small recordings over time quickly adds up to a quiver of positive recordings that can be helpful and grounding when you need them most. There is also evidence that heavy rock music or heavy metal can affect the mood and make people feel more aggressive. If you need to relax in the car put on some classical music, smooth jazz, or soft rock to avoid angry thoughts and feelings.
Keeping in the air quality as clean as possible in your car while in traffic is also important. Studies show that people that routinely drive in dense traffic are at greater risk for health related problems like asthma. For starters, when in traffic especially on the freeway you should be using the recirculation button on your control panel. It’s the button with the arrow that goes in a circle.
When turned on it keeps recycling the same air inside the car instead of pulling “fresh” air in from the outside. Keep in mind that if it's very cold outside and you use the recirculation button the inside of the car may fog up. If that happens turn it off until the windows clear and then hit it again. Recycling the air in the car is better than pulling polluted freeway air into your vehicle when driving.
Another good idea is to keep the interior of your car as clean and dust free as possible. If you don’t want to spend money on car washes all the time buy some earth friendly wipes to use and periodically wipe down the inside surfaces of your car. There are also essential oil diffusers that can be used to pump oils like eucalyptus, tea tree oil or others into the air while you drive which keeps the environment in your car cleaner than the outside air. If you don’t want to spend the money on a car diffuser, you can just use a hanging ornament that you can drop oils onto before driving in traffic.
Finally, driving in bad traffic when one is exhausted or angry is never a good idea. Use your better judgement, and if you do get triggered while driving be sure to take 10 long slow breaths to avoid reacting in a negative or angry way. Making the choice to let people in instead of speeding up and eding them out is better for both parties. We find that the nicer we are to our fellow drivers, the better we feel ourselves, so when you come across that person trying to get into the traffic lane when it's jampacked; let them in for their sake and yours.
(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 310.909.6956 twitter: @CristianoWFR )