Getting in the Calm Zone
On a recent trip to Ireland, I was able to experience what we Americans refer to as “driving on the wrong side of the road.” I don’t know who is right or wrong when determining what side of the road to drive on, but I can tell you it took a lot more concentration on my part with the steering wheel on the right side of the car and driving on the left side of the road.
One thing that really captured my attention while driving was a term we don’t use in the United States that I’m aware of, which is “traffic calming.”
According to the Irish government, traffic calming is normally used in residential and urban areas. Physical features such as roundabouts, road humps, chicanes, and reduced speed limits are used to reduce the speed and amount of traffic passing through an area to make roads safer for all road users. By doing this, the quality of the local environment can also be improved.
When I would come upon a traffic calming zone while driving, I found that merely reading the sign caused me to slow the speed of the car and I felt myself slow down as well.
This made me wonder, are we so caught up in the speed of life that we can’t slow down and be calm with all the traffic coming at us? Unfortunately, for most of us, I think the answer is yes.
Let’s take a closer look. The potential benefits of an automobile traffic calming zone are:
- Reduce the number and severity of casualties resulting from road traffic collisions, especially those involving pedestrians and cyclists.
- Discourage heavy vehicles and ‘through traffic’ from using unsuitable routes.
- Reduce speeding.
- Improve the urban street environment for local communities.
- Provide a greater feeling of safety.
- Encourage more walking and cycling.
Let’s take a closer look at how this applies to you. According to research performed at the University of Liverpool, having a “traffic calming zone” in your life can also have benefits:
- Reduce collisions in your life by having the ability to think clearly. When you’re calm, you have the ability to think logically and make decisions accordingly. Having a clear mind is extremely important when dealing with challenging situations. Having your mind free and relaxed will allow you to work through solutions in life easier and more logically.
- Discourage the “through traffic” of fighting instead of having a discussion. Staying calm in the middle of a challenging discussion will lead to less fall out. When you are calm, you will be able to discuss problems with ease and certainty. Unnecessarily arguing will not lead to a solution and will likely leave all involved feeling frustrated and annoyed.
- Reducing your speed in life and calming yourself will help you be more focused. When you slow down, you put yourself in a position to identify your problem, how it came about, and how you may be able to change it. Removing your emotion from a challenge will allow you to resolve your problem with greater awareness and act smartly.
- Improve your life and environment by giving yourself time to prepare before speaking. Putting yourself in the calming zone gives you time to think about what you want to say in advance rather than saying the first thing that comes to mind. When you have an open and free mind, you open yourself up to explore solutions and make a positive impression, not an emotional one.
- Staying calm keeps you in a safety zone. Like walking or cycling, you will increase your strength over time. People will want to be around you because of your inner calm and the positive impression you have on others. As you practice calming yourself, you will develop an ability to cope with challenges patiently and with ease.
Now that we’ve looked at some benefits, what are some simple ways you can calm your mind?
Meditation and prayer are two of the biggest ways I’ve used to calm my restless mind. Journaling is yet another way to get your ideas down on paper and slow your thought process. You could also consider exercising, listening to music, or finding a hobby to slow you down and distract your mind.
Everyone has different things that make them happy and relaxed. Finding ways to lower stress levels and move into a calmer state of mind will help you enjoy life more, improve your mental health, and allow you to spend time working on your dreams and goals.
Whichever techniques you choose to calm your mind and lower your levels of stress, ensure it's the right fit for you and your lifestyle. Only you know what you really need and what makes you feel safe and at peace.
If you practice this peacefulness each day, it won't be long before you start to feel calmer, even in situations where you would have previously been over the edge. Your thoughts will be clearer, instead of jumbled and racing. Physically, you'll feel stronger too, because your body will be free from the affliction of stress and anxiety.
We can’t always stop the traffic coming at us, but we can control how we react to it. Life will always have road humps and roundabouts that change the direction we thought we were going. If we can reduce or eliminate the “collisions” we have in life by learning to stay calm, we stand a better chance at having a more enjoyable, peaceful, and productive life.
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Mike Van Pelt, Men’s Life Coach
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