Photo by Larsz
I recently bought a new car, and along with all the high-tech gizmos inside, there is a display that gives me feedback on how my gas mileage is doing. I have found that my miles per gallon are directly related to how I am driving.
As I drive, I watch my speed, as most drivers do. But I also watch the little yellow bar on the center console telling me exactly what my MPG are. The end result is that I am driving less aggressively, and I am driving slower.
The funny thing is that although I have heard for years about how slowing down decreases stress, I have not consciously done it. Sure I may have slowed down for a trip or two, but without the constant feedback, I would be back up in speed with the rest of the herd, and feeling tense. Here is what I have noticed about my driving this past month:
- I no longer feel rushed. For some reason driving faster makes me feel rushed, even if I have ample time. I always have gotten places early, so there is no change in behavior, just in attitude.
- I am present. I see the weather. I notice other drivers. I remember my drive. Driving slower allows me to be in the present, instead of where I am going.
- I never worry about speeding tickets. I used to always brake when I saw a police car, because I would inevitably be speeding. Even though my new car is significantly peppier than my old, I just glance at the speedometer to confirm I am legal and go on my way.
- I am no longer in the way of the rushed and rude drivers. My area of the country seems to be filled with extremely rude drivers. (It may be like that everywhere, I don’t know.) Tailgating, obscene gestures and lane-weaving are common. Now that I am going slower, I am in the slower lanes, and honestly the people seem nicer. I still see the crazies zooming by to the left of me, but I’m not in their way and they stay out of mine.
I think that everyone can de-stress their lives just by driving slower. However, I also believe that most of the time we are not conscious of how much stress we are inflicting on ourselves. I would still be driving the same way were it not for that instant feedback.
What do you think? Is it possible to slow down without the instant feedback? Are there other ways to de-stress the commute?