“How can you stand all this traffic!” My close friend, Lisa, visits Austin frequently for her job. And with every visit she notices the increasingly more difficult traffic patterns. We have all heard about the 110+ net arrivals moving to Austin every day, per the Austin Business Journal. Our roads are congested, and clearly the infrastructure cannot support this unprecedented growth in Central Texas.
To combat some of the inherent frustration that comes with driving in traffic, here are some tips for reducing stress while experiencing an unbearable stop-and-go commute. While written for Austin drivers, specifically, these tips but are applicable to wherever you live.
1. Learn the traffic patterns.
Every city has them. What time is MOPAC stopped? Who drives on I-35 anymore? When should you avoid the 183 North corridor? All the locals know the peak road conditions. Take note and avoid these peak congested areas if at all possible.
(Answers: MOPAC heading into downtown 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and heading away from downtown 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. None of the locals I know ever drive on I-35! Avoid the 183 North corridor from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. every weekday with a special avoidance for holiday Fridays. Ugh!)
2. Always have an alternate plan.
Traffic can get bogged down with the slightest hint of rain. I don’t know why, but Texans have a hard time driving in rain. Fender benders are extremely common. Learn the roadways, have your GPS ready and transition to the less traveled road if there is a wreck blocking traffic.
3. Take the time to breathe.
Seriously. Just taking a few deep breaths while you are behind the wheel can do wonders to reduce your blood pressure if you are getting stressed.
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4. I find music is highly calming.
Make sure your go-to calming music is readily available and press PLAY as soon as you feel your shoulders tense up.
5. Stay hydrated.
Keep water in the car in case your trip takes longer than expected.
6. Have snacks on hand.
Keep a protein bar handy so that you don’t get low blood sugar while you are delayed with traffic. Just like tip No. 5, the goal here is to replenish your resources to keep you clear-minded and focused on what matters (staying relaxed!).
7. Avoid difficult or aggressive drivers.
If you see someone weaving in and out of traffic erratically, stay back and let them pass ahead of you.
So by keeping just a few of these suggestions in mind, you can find that you can avoid the troublesome areas around our fabulous city and enjoy the Keep Austin Weirdness that comes from living here.
One Last Tip for Driving in Traffic
If you still need help keeping calm while on the roads, or if you feel that you or someone you know might have “road rage,” contact us at Thriveworks Counseling and Life Coaching. We have trained counselors ready to help you keep your cool while navigating the Austin highways and byways.
You can thrive. We can help. Call us at 512-649-2270.
Do you have any tips to add to this list? Leave a comment below.