Paying full attention to your surroundings when behind the wheel can save lives
Driving in cities can often be quite a challenge. The visual noise we’re bombarded with on the roads — advertisement and all kinds of scenes — coupled with the (sometimes inappropriate) behaviour of other road users, can cause distractions behind the wheel.
Even our state of mind can be a decisive factor for driving. Anxiety or stress can make you feel like you’re driving on auto-pilot, unaware of the speed you’re going at or the route you’re taking. This is really dangerous as it means that in the face of an unforeseen event on the road you won’t have the reaction capacity you need.
To put this into perspective, according to UK road safety charity Brake, distractions are the leading cause of traffic accidents. We’re not always aware of the importance of paying attention until we feel the immense responsibility of our manoeuvres.
How to practise mindfulness behind the wheel
That’s why practising mindfulness — focusing your attention on the present moment — is so important. This technique provides you with greater mental clarity, as well as improves concentration and emotional resilience. Paying full attention while driving can not only be life-saving, but also helps make traffic more orderly and respectful. Plus, it reduces road incidents.
Mindfulness techniques for proper driving
These techniques are easy to put into practice and have very positive consequences as they help you to pay more attention to the road:
- Acknowledge how you feel: Before getting behind the wheel, take stock of how you feel, how tired you are and think about the route you’re going to take.
- Breathe: Sit down and take a moment to take a couple of deep, mindful breaths.
- Be aware of your body: When you put on your seat belt, be aware of your posture, your hands on the wheel and your foot on the pedal.
- Take control: Once you’ve set off on your journey, become aware of your thoughts and focus your attention on the road.
- Use each stop sign to practise body mindfulness: Every time you have to stop, connect your awareness with your breath.
- Come back to the present: Whenever you notice any temptation to check your phone or drift into some other distraction, back up and come back to the present.
- Don’t be in a hurry to reach your destination:: Once you reach your destination, wait a moment before getting out of the car and observe the silence once the engine is off.
Reflect on whether you enjoyed the journey or got stressed and what you would do differently next time. This will help you get to your destination feeling more relaxed next time.