Wed | Sep 30, 2020

How Motorists should drive their stress away

Published:Sunday | January 26, 2020 | 12:07 AMPaul Glenroy Messam - Sunday Gleaner Writer

Driving should be looked at as an enjoyable and stimulating challenge to both mind and body. Much of our culture revolves around the motor vehicle. However, when a person slides behind the steering wheel, he is faced with many stressful situations. Stop-and-go traffic, weekly fluctuating petrol prices, reckless taxi drivers, road rage, laid-back drivers, all add up to a stressful journey.

“When drivers indicate right and turn left, stop suddenly in front of you, overtake while you are making a turn, all this adds up to stressful times,” says Sophia Mason, educator with a clean no-accident record. Rupert Grey, a former superintendant and head of the police traffic, says the roads can be stressful, so he tries to always plan his routes and time to carry out his business. “I ensure my vehicle is roadworthy, make the necessary checks before driving out, and remain calm despite the various road challenges.”

Valentinia D’Urso, a psychology tutor at Padua University in Italy, once made the point that rage, for example is an ever-increasing phenomenon in the society and produces negative effects on the organism. Racquel McCarthy, counselling psychologist, describes stress as the excitement or feelings of anxiety and tension that occurs when demands placed on an individual exceed his ability to cope.

She explained that being burnout should not be confused with stress. “Burnout occurs when constant levels of high stress produce feelings of hopelessness, powerlessness, and resentment and failure.”

McCarthy also explained that there is episodic acute stress, where the person’s life feels disorderly, in lasting crisis, chaotic or out of control. This will happen if a driver, for example, is always rushing and is late, take on too much, has many things to do or is short-tempered.

According to McCarthy, there is chronic stress where there are unrelenting demands and pressures for seemingly unending periods of time.

It is essential that motorists be fully aware of some of the major causes of stress. Aside from physical, mental and emotional activities, stress falls into three categories.

Category 1: Psychological: Life changes, overload, frustration, deprivation (no money, very little or no food.)

Category 2: External: Occupation (too much work), no job, not employable, noise, (sound of gunshot and loud music); nutrition, drugs, and the environment, especially if it is violence driven.

Category 3: Personality: This involves self-perception, anxious, reactivity, urgency, need for control, anger, and hostility.

Dr. Hame Persaud in his book ‘A Renewed You’, states that physical illness, injury, or fatigue may reduce the individual’s resistance to psychological stress. He explained that anyone can break down with these stresses. “For example, continued warfare, civil life problems, personal, social sexual difficulties, fear, guilt, hate, which are repressed thus causing the individual to be weakened.”

In its positive arena, stress can force one to concentrate and perform when the challenges are realised. So make use of the time to relax and respect your achievements. Equally, stress becomes negative when the person remains in the “geared up” mode and simply cannot relax after meeting the particular challenge.


Plan A: Motorists should, for their own safety, seek to recognise any stress signal before going on the road. Clear the clutter from your mind, think positive, be rational.

Plan B: Try to have confidence in yourself.

Plan C: Be as organised and prioritise as much as possible.

Plan D: Do not feel afraid to ask for help. The person who knows not, that he knows not, is a big “fool”.

Plan E: Make your pre-trip inspection top priority before engaging the engine.

Plan F: Endeavour to understand the source of your stress. Is it a who? A what? A where? Or A why”

Plan G: Once the motorist has found out his great source of stress, carefully avoid that source.

Plan H: If and when the prime stressor cannot be avoided or even modified, simply choose the best alternative.

Plan I: As a defensive driver and safe-driving motorist, anticipate common occurrences and prepare for them.

Plan J: If and when a crisis happens, keep calm, keep a cool head. If it’s possible count to 10.

Plan K: Even under trying circumstances, maintain a sense of good, clean humour. “A good laugh is a mighty good thing….” says Herman Melville, writer.

Plan L: Make it a way of life to maintain a good human relationship with drivers and passengers around you. A driver serving the public through a taxi, bus, van, truck, or motor bike will score many points in the eyes of the public by offering good customer service with politeness, patience and courtesy.