10 Ways to Stay Alert Behind the Wheel
Let’s set the scene: It’s been a 12+ hour day of going from job-to-job in less than ideal weather conditions. You’re hungry, tired, and losing focus quickly. As you climb into your truck to make the somewhat long journey home, your thoughts turn into daydreams of being in your PJ’s, sipping a cup of hot chocolate, and crawling into your oh-so comfortable bed. Then…WHOA! You swerve into the other lane nearly missing an on-coming vehicle. Your hands shake, your heart plummets and you begin to sweat. If pulling over isn’t an option, what can you do to stay alert and prevent this from happening again? Here are a few tips on how to stay focused on the road ahead.
1. Stay hydrated – drinking plenty of water helps keep your body temperature cool and prevent you from feeling sluggish and drowsy. The colder the water, the better!
2. Pack healthy snacks – say goodbye to those candy bars and bags of chips. Instead, reach for protein-packed goodies like almonds, seeds, and fruit.
3. Chew gum – chomping on bubble gum can help keep your brain active and your mind awake. Grab the sugarless variety and you can even help prevent cavities. We call that a win-win!
4. Laugh – that’s right, laugh. Listening to stand-up comedy may help keep your brain focused and eyes on the road. Plus laughing while driving never hurt anyone….just keep your eyes open when you do!
5. Smell essential oils – while this may sound out of the ordinary, a quick sniff of an invigorating oil like peppermint, grapefruit or even eucalyptus will help stimulate the brain’s nervous system to keep you alert without the caffeine or sugar rush.
6. Turn on that AC – keeping a cool temperature in your vehicle can help you from becoming too comfortable and nodding off.
7. Moisturize those eyes – staring at the road for long periods of time causes you to forget to blink! Keep eye drops on hand for when your eyes start to feel even the slightest bit dry. If you’re a contact lens wearer, always pack an extra pair in case you need to make a quick change.
8. Sing! – OK, so you’re not auditioning for American Idol but packing a playlist chock full of songs you know the words to will amp up your concentration and focus on the task at hand…arriving to your destination safely. A few of our favorites: “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey; “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen; “Love Shack” by the B-52’s and “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses.
9. Catch your Z’s – try to clock between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night. This gives your body and mind a chance to repair itself and unwind so you fall into a deep, peaceful sleep. The goal is to start each day with a full tank of energy which help prevents fatigue.
10. Practice positivity – studies have shown that people who approach life with a ‘glass half full’ mentality often tire less quickly than those who don’t look on the bright side. Pack a book of motivational or inspirational quotes in your glove box and read it when you need a boost. Just make sure the gear shift reads ‘P’ when you do!
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