I don’t like to drive. Riding as a passenger in a car or other land vehicle is perfectly fine; it’s the mental strain of being in the driver’s seat that stresses me out. If it were practical to live where I live without a car, I would do it, but it is far from practical in my small city and will likely always be that way. For me, owning a car is a necessity for both my employment and leisure activities, so I put up with it the best I can.
One common mental activity I’d do on long car rides is stare repeatedly at the dashboard clock during my drive. Since I don’t enjoy driving to begin with, my mind naturally wanders to arriving at my destination as soon as safely possible. So I glance a the clock and start doing math and internal dialogue.
Okay. It’s 9:30 now. We have 240 miles left to go until we get to the hotel. So if I drive 80 miles per hour, then that’s 80×3 equals 240, so we’ll get there around 12:30. But I need to pee. The next rest area’s coming up soon, so we’ll stop and hit the bathroom. That’s gonna add about 10 minutes, so let’s say 12:40. We woke up really early this morning though, so we should probably stop somewhere for lunch on the way, so depending on the length of time we have to wait and assuming we get fast food, let’s say that adds on another half hour to 40 minutes. So we’re looking at a 1:20 arrival time on the conservative side. Shit. There’s a wreck up ahead. This is gonna slow us down at least 15 minutes, so looks like we’ll get to the hotel around 1:35 to 1:40 assuming this clears up enough that I can get back to my goal speed of 80 mph and I don’t end up behind some goody two shoes waste of space playing amateur traffic cop going 5 mph under the speed limit in the left lane. Mrs. Lite is probably gonna need at least 2 additional bathroom breaks, so let’s add another 15-20 minutes combined for those stops, so we’re looking at 2 PM realistically. Hey, this wreck isn’t so bad, so we should be able to get through with just a 5 minute delay instead of 15, so let’s subtract 10 minutes. 1:50 is probably more likely. Oh, here comes the rest area. I better get over to the right hand lane.
Sad to say, this is what went on in my head constantly every single time I embarked on a drive lasting more than an hour. It’s exhausting, but I can’t do much about it. That’s just how my brain functions. Much of my driving stress was focused on time. I hate being late to anything, but even in situations when I know there’s no strict time limit on where I need to be, I still stress over the timing of my arrival.
So I did the following:
Believe it or not, this one simple act made a huge difference in the stress level I experience when I drive. I barely even glance at the clock anymore since I’ve gradually learned that I won’t get any useful information from pointing my eyeballs in that direction. Since I never know exactly what time it is, my brain is not in a perpetual state of doing arithmetic that needs constant fine tuning based on changing road conditions. My mind is more relaxed. I can just drive and we’ll get there when we get there. Not like there’s anything I can do about the traffic anyway.
Next I’m thinking about replacing the yellow sticky note with a strip of black electrical tape so it blends in better with its surroundings.