How To Relieve Traffic Jam Stress (Part 3 of 3)

by Doc Orman, M.D.

So far, in Part 1 of this series, we looked at an overview of the causes of traffic jam stress, then in Part 2, we examined some of the conversations that can contribute to stress in this situation.  Today, in the third and final part of this series, we’re going to examine some action patterns that can cause traffic jam stress to occur or become magnified.

The value of identifying internal conversations and action patterns that might be contributing to our stress is that we have 100% control over these internal factors (once we become aware of them).  With regard to our external predicaments (e.g., traffic jams) there may, or may not, be much we can do to change or escape from our stress-producing situations.  On the other hand, if we are feeling stressed about not being able to escape, or if we are feeling angry, frustrated, worried, panicked or in any other way distressed, well then there’s much we can do to relieve these unwanted reactions

Action Patterns And Traffic Jam Stress

How many of the following action patterns, including actions you may have  neglected to take, had a bearing on the amount of stress you experienced during past traffic jams you personally experienced?

  • Failing to listen to traffic reports or to check for delays before heading out.
  • Leaving only enough time to get to your destination on time, if everything goes smoothly and there are no delays.
  • Choosing a travel route that’s quicker and more direct, but that leaves you few escape/detour options should traffic suddenly come to a halt.
  • Blaming yourself for being “stupid” enough to get stuck in a jam.
  • Complaining and getting yourself progressively more upset when stuck in a traffic jam, instead of finding something useful or enjoyable to do while you are waiting.

Some of these action patterns can contribute to your getting stuck in a traffic jam in the first place.  Others, in combination with some of the conversations we talked about in the previous post, can make your situation even worse and much more stressful than it needs to be.

What Traffic Jams Reveal About Other Types of Stress

Again, traffic jams are fairly infrequent, and so we don’t usually consider them very instructive when it comes to the more common types of stress we experience.  However, what we are able to recognize and learn about traffic jam stress can be applicable to many other stressful situations.

You see, it is rarely external events alone, such as traffic jams, that cause us to get so upset.  Rather, it’s the coupling of external events with our own internal conversations and action patterns that together cause us to end up feeling stressed.

We are normally pretty good at noticing obvious, external events, and how they appear to be directly related to our feelings of being stressed.  However, what we are not usually good at is appreciating how our internal thoughts and behaviors may be contributing to our stress as well.

Make This One Of Your Goals For 2012

As 2011 comes to a close, why not set a goal for yourself in 2012 to learn more about the internal causes of any problems or stress you might experience.  One way to do this is to keep checking in with this blog.  Another is to sign up for my free monthly stress relief newsletter, if you haven’t already done this (see sign up form above on the right side of this page).

A third way, is to read all four of my introductory stress mastery PDF trainings. Again, all four of these PDFs are free and you can easily find a link to the first one in this series located in the orange bar at the top of every page.

Hope you have a safe, happy, and stress free holiday weekend.  And don’t be too hard on your fellow drivers, even if they do mess up and cause you to have a delay.

It’s still not too late to benefit from downloading and reading my free holiday stress relief e-book on Facebook.  Just click on the link above, “like” the page, and download this 32-page PDF e-book that hopefully will benefit you.  If you want to know more about what’s inside it, just click on the brief 3-minute video also at the top of this page.

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