A little while ago I was working with Ford Canada on their Bliss Behind The Wheel, Ford Wellness campaign here in Edmonton. Helping drivers de-stress and find a bit of wellness behind the wheel.
I love this initiative, because in our busy every day lives it can seem daunting to add ANOTHER thing to our to do lists. Of course I'm all for going to a yoga or meditation class, but sometimes there aren't enough hours in the day.
Additionally we live in a world that has so many demands on us. We are constantly being pulled in a million directions and this adds stress to our minds and bodies like never before. Unfortunately our bodies haven't caught up to technology advances yet and don't really recognize the difference between stress of a job, friend or traffic in comparison to life threatening situations like a bear chasing us. All this stress, all the time can have a toll on our health.
So, I came up with a few tips you can use in the car to help a bit. You are already in the car, so it;s not adding to your schedule any! Some of them are light stretches and the main one is calming the body with breath. This breath can help our bodies relax and send signals to the brain to calm down.
So let's start with before we drive:
- Sit up nice and tall in your seat. imagine reaching the crown of your head to the roof. Put your hands on the steering wheel. Take a big inhale as you push your chest toward the front of the car and then as you exhale round your back, tuck your chin and look to your belly button. Repeat 2-4 times.
- Next sit up tall again. Take a big inhale and as you exhale twist to your left. Look over your left shoulder and hold for 2-4 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
No only do these two stretches help you connect with your body and de-stress through breathing, but it's also stretching lightly to help you shoulder check and see better.
Next, during the drive, while stopped at red lights:
- Put your hands on you stomach. Take a big inhale, let the belly expand with the air, and as you exhale actively pull the belly button in. Repeat 2-4 breaths.
- This breath uses the diaphragm to breathe, which massages a nerve that connects to the "restore and calming" center of the brain.
- Keep eyes open for safety and keep the breath slow so not to get dizzy. Safety is of course number 1 priority.
This breath can be done as driving to, with the hands remaining on the streering wheel. When you feel overwhelmed by traffic possibly, find a breath or two, allowing the exhale to come from the mouth, maybe even a sigh sound. This is very soothing an calming.
Once you've arrived at your destination:
- Sit up tall. Inhale as you draw your shoulder towards your ears, exhale as you push your shoulders back and down away from the ears. Repeat 2-4 times. Notice the softening sensation in the neck and shoulders.
- Sitting up tall, take your left ear to your left shoulder and hold for the stretch 1-3 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
During the drive tension can be created in the neck and shoulders. Whether it be from traffic, road conditions or anything happening in the car. allow a few breaths here to release the tension before going on to your destination to start from a place of calm.
Leave a little bit of time in your travels. Rushing will only create more tension and stress.
- Take advantage of the car features to help you out. Use the Ford sync for hands free control of music, destinations and phone calls and my personal favourite... heated seats... ha ha