Seven days without self-care makes one weak
The dangers of long hours behind the wheel
The main risk to our health we think about when spending a lot of time on the road is the risk of being involved in a crash.
But what about the other risks?
There are health risks in spending long periods of time in a vehicle, which many of us don’t think about. These risks include air pollution, increases in anxiety, stress, and blood pressure levels, and chronic lower back and/or knee pain.
Some studies have shown that stress and anxiety caused by excessive time spent in vehicles can also increase the risk of depression. There are other health risks associated with lack of exercise such as higher blood pressure, decreased metabolism, impaired cardiovascular health, among other things.
Overall, life spent in a vehicle, day in and day out, can bring with it a lot of potential risks.
You use less energy when you sit than you do when you stand or move. A number of health concerns are therefore linked with sitting for long periods of time.
So what can people who spend a lot of time in a vehicle do to improve their health and wellbeing?
Take a break from sitting
Lunch on the go?
If you sit in your vehicle eating your lunch and scrolling your phone, you’re never going to raise your heart rate. A short walk around the block is all it takes to get the blood pumping, feel the muscles working and breathe in fresh air. That is if you can find a place away from heavy traffic!
Sitting in general causes compression of the contents of your abdomen (which include your intestinal tract) impinging on and slowing digestion. Sluggish digestion is a major culprit of excess bloating and gas, cramps, heartburn and general discomfort after eating.
Another reason to get out of the car at regular times is to stretch and allow your body to de-compress. Keeping hydrated is also important.
Pay intention to your surroundings
As humans, we’re already predisposed to dwell on negativity – it’s an early survival mechanism. Negative thinking can come quite easily to us whilst positive thoughts seem to somehow elude us some days.
However, if we set our intention to pay attention to what is actually happening right here, right now, we can often notice things to appreciate, and this can shift our attention away from negative thought patterns. The sun might be shining and creating shadows on the pavement, the birds might be twittering and we might notice something that sparks a flash of inspiration or curiosity within us. We can benefit from these little moments of appreciating ordinary things and this can lead to feeling happier!
Do at least one thing each week you love, or meditate… or both
Do you remember a time when you felt really peaceful and calm? Maybe you had a fishing rod in your hand, maybe a golf club, a good book or simply a moment of appreciating something or someone?
Where do you think those feelings come from? No-one put them on a plate and handed them to you. We generate the feel good chemicals such as Oxytocin and Serotonin inside of ourselves.
Imagine if you could generate these good feelings for yourself, without even needing to leave your own home. Research has shown that some people reach states of inner stillness and peace through practicing Meditation and Mindfulness. So, if you don’t have time to go out and do the things that bring you inner calm and peace, why not try the next best thing – learn to meditate and integrate Mindfulness and Compassion into your life!
We gain Serotonin, a mood stabiliser, from going out in the sun, nature walks and Mindfulness.
We gain Oxytocin, the love hormone, from socialising, physical touch, petting animals and helping others, all connected to the practice of self compassion.
You can’t enjoy wealth if your not in good health! Why not make it your priority this week?
San Harper is a Grade A driving instructor and has been working in the driver training industry for 18 years. As a qualified teacher of several Mindfulness based Interventions, San has been designing and delivering courses to ADIs throughout the UK and corporate global teams.
You can hear more from San in our upcoming Masterclass session – Mindfulness – Falling awake at the wheel with San Harper.
Session duration: 2 hours
Session date & time: 6-8pm, 22 March 2022Book now