In a world of stress, screens, and social media, it has never been more important to pay attention to our mental health. For some people – especially those who live in big cities, driving is not the first thing that springs to mind when you are looking for ways to care for your mental health. However, recent studies have shown that driving can have several elements that can be beneficial to your mental health.
From a scientific point of view, it has been discovered that driving can release high levels of the hormone, dehydroepiandrosterone – which can help to modulate mood, treat depression and anxiety, and reduce stress.
Research from Columbia University also suggests that older adults’ health declines when they stop driving. This could be down to a number of different factors but are likely to include the fact that they are not getting out and about so much, have a lower chance of physical movement and reduced socialising.
Driving is not just a functional thing but can bring enjoyment, independence, and freedom. It is a means to having new experiences, and all of this can be extremely beneficial to your mental health.
With this in mind, here are five ways that driving can be good for your head:
Time on your own
Having some time on your own, with your own thoughts can be useful if you are feeling overwhelmed with what is going on around you. It can give you time to focus on yourself, clear your mind of outside pressures, and can even boost your creativity.
Driving is a great way to spend some time on your own, reflect on things, and focus your mind on yourself.
Mindfulness is all about being in the moment, being aware of what is happening right now, and clearing your mind of lingering thoughts. It enables you to take the weight off your mind, take away negative thoughts, as well as practice gratitude, giving you more control over how you are feeling and how you are thinking.
Going for a drive is a great way to practice mindfulness, leaving you only with your mind and your driving, enabling you to be aware of what is going on around you, and being able to dismiss your other thoughts.
Change of scenery
The place that we are in physically can have a massive effect on the way that we are feeling mentally. Often, if you are stressed, just going somewhere different can make a massive difference. It can be especially powerful if you can get away from the town and into nature.
Driving enables you to go somewhere for a change of scenery. It can give you space both physically and mentally from negative thoughts and stress.
Relaxing to music
In our busy lives, we often do not have time to listen to our favourite music or an audiobook. Doing this can be an enjoyable, relaxing, uplifting experience, and driving will often enable you to do this. There’s nothing better than cranking your favourite music up and singing along at the top of your voice – and in the car, there is no-one to hear you or judge you!
Or you could choose to have some peace and quiet – maybe you have been craving silence or soothing music. The great thing about driving is that only you will know.
Screens are notoriously bad for our mental health. They can severely affect our ability and quality of sleep, can also drive anxiety and depression, and are also not good for us physically. Driving helps you to get away from screens for a while. Whether you gaze at the scenery or just concentrate on the road it is more beneficial than staring at a screen.
It has been proven that there are many benefits to driving on your mental health. Experts at Caruno say “People love driving because it represents freedom. Some may see cars as just something that gets you from point A to B, but it’s not that straightforward. Driving can be a chance to unwind, be in our own space and refocus.”
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