Our moods are a powerful influencer of how we respond to people, tasks, and our behaviour in general. When we are in a bad or low mood, we tend to overreact in a negative, even in an aggressive way, and feel less able to cope with everyday tasks. When we are in a good mood though, we are the opposite and we make light of things, see the best in a situation and are generally a bit nicer to be around!

Our mood heavily influences our driving style:

  • If we are in a bad mood, we will be less patient with other drivers and we may be more likely to retaliate if we feel they have driven in a way that has caused us inconvenience.
  • When we are in a good mood, we are more likely to let someone into a traffic queue in front of us, and if they don’t say ‘thank you’ to us for doing so, we may even let this go over our heads too and shrug these things off more easily.

Emotionally unaware?

One problem with moods is sometimes the person in a bad mood doesn’t realize that they are like that and it takes someone or something else to point it out and if you do, it isn’t usually well-received. As we get older, we become better at knowing what we feel and why. This valuable skill is called ‘emotional awareness’ and it can help us to relate to other people, to understand what we want and make choices.

Before you drive next, have a think about the following to practice your own emotional awareness:

Start by noticing different emotions as you feel them. For example, if you managed to parallel park first time without much struggle, you might say "I feel proud of that." Or, when you have to emergency break at a roundabout because you forgot to do all your checks, you might say, "I am annoyed with myself for that but I will do better next time."

Pick a familiar emotion such as ‘happy’ and track it through the day. Notice how often you feel it and when you feel it. When you notice it, make a mental note to yourself and even what you were doing, who you were with, etc.

How many emotions can you name? You might want to write your emotions down and keep a track of them and include what you were feeling and if you can, why you were feeling like that. The more of these that you consciously think about and make a note of, the more aware of your emotional state you will become. This then is a powerful tool when it comes to keeping a cool head with all the pressures of driving.

Music can be a powerful influencer on our mood and emotions and subsequent behaviour. Choose something uplifting or even calming to drive to (as long as it doesn’t distract you) as this can make the experience better overall you and for others.

This is just some of the advice Get Into Driving has to offer