Presented by BetterHelp.
Mindfulness is a skill that is useful to anyone of any background. Although you might only hear about it in a therapeutic setting, mindfulness can also be used in your day-to-day life or while driving on a long road trip.
We’ve come up with the top five mindfulness practices for you to try on the road or during a road trip with the family.
One way you can focus your mind and practice mindfulness on the road is by mentally noting any time you notice an animal and what type it is. Often on road trips, we see plenty of animals, such as sheep, cows, horses, dogs, and more.
Even though it might sound childish, by focusing your mind on your environment and trying to pinpoint certain features, you’re actually training yourself to focus and avoid distraction.
Guessing Games With the Family
You may be thinking that a silly car game can’t be considered mindfulness. However, anything that requires hyper-focus can work as mindfulness! The goal of the practice is to clear your mind of distractions and learn to ground yourself in more stressful situations.
Some fun guessing games you can try include the following:
- 25 Questions (they have to guess what you’re thinking of within 25 yes or no questions)
- Animal guessing game (what animal am I thinking of?)
- Free-for-all guessing game (everyone guesses, and it could be any item, idea, animal, or concept. Questions don’t have to be yes or no).
- TV show and movie guessing game
Basically, in the guessing game, the rest of your family can guess what you’re thinking of within a certain category. If you want it to be harder, don’t add a category.
Another way to focus on your environment while on the go includes finding colors. Think of a color and try to note it any time you see it along your route. Even if you’re doing other things while practicing this mindfulness exercise, it’ll help keep your mind awake and active on the road, which is a good way to prevent sleepiness.
Breathing Exercises for Stress
If you generally feel quite stressed on road trips, breathing exercises are another form of mindfulness that can help. Here’s a simple breathing exercise to try while driving:
- Breathe in for four long seconds.
- Breathe out for eight seconds, counting the seconds in your mind.
- Do this until you feel your stress begin to leave your body.
Simply breathing deeply is good enough to reduce anxiety in your body. It has even been shown to reduce anxiety in other situations, such as before testing.
Focus on Your Senses
Another way to ground yourself and focus on your surroundings while driving is by focusing on all of your senses. Ask yourself the following:
- Can I feel my back against the chair? What does it feel like?
- Are my legs hurting?
- What can I smell right now?
- What do I see on the road in front of me?
- What do I hear? Is there music playing?
- How does the steering wheel feel in my hands?
- Am I feeling hot or cold or warm?
- Am I hungry or thirsty?
- Can I taste anything on my tongue right now?
- Are there any interesting scents in the car?
Training your mind to focus on your senses trains you to focus on your surroundings, which can actually improve your focus on the road for long distances.
Try any of these mindfulness practices on your next road trip to see how they make you feel. Even if you’re not anxious or stressed, these practices can improve your focus and overall experience on your trip.
If you want to learn more about mindfulness and some new practices to try, check out BetterHelp’s advice column here: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/mindfulness/.