Al Khail Road, Sheikh Zayed Road, Jumeirah Beach Road... you name it, we’ve been stuck on it. Dubai traffic can be pretty trying, and bumper-to-bumper carmageddon is guaranteed to have you feeling even more tense about needing to be somewhere. Will stressing make the traffic move faster, though? Sadly not. So here are some tips on how to keep calm, enjoy the downtime, and practice mindfulness to stop you screaming at the sunroof.
1. TURN OFF CELLULAR DATA
This is the easy bit! Very simply, turn off your cellular data. You will have no Wi-Fi in the middle of traffic and subsequently will be unable to use your phone for anything but calls and texts. This is good for a number of reasons: it allows you to work on calming down your anxiety and stress levels, as opposed to amplifying them by scrolling through Instagram seeing the people at the event you’re now late for. (Hi, FOMO!) It also lets you step back from digital reality, and focus on your real reality. Sifting through emails may seem productive while sitting in traffic, but in an already heightened stressful situation, you may not make the best email decisions. Put. The. Phone. Down.
2. TAKE SOME DEEP BREATHS
Meditation isn’t just sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed and omm-ing (safety first, this could cause problems in a car). It’s also the tool to achieve mindfulness, which is being still and aware of your headspace. This can be done anytime, anywhere; it just asks you to stop and be present. Focus on your breathing. Work on lengthening the breath while sitting behind the wheel. Count in for three, count out for four and keep your eyes open (again, safety first). When you feel your thoughts crowding your counting, allow them to pass and focus back on your breath, and your in for three, out for four. Your mind will jump back to the traffic scenario, where you are supposed to be, or how angry on a scale of 1 to 10 your boss will be that you’re late, but none of these thoughts can change the situation, so keep moving your attention back to your breath. It takes time to develop meditation technique, so don’t add this to your frustration if it’s not immediately natural to you. It does get easier, and there’s plenty of traffic in Dubai to will present you with opportunities to master the craft.
3. PUT ON A PODCAST
Ideally a podcast relevant to mindfulness and meditation, but not crucially. Again, it’s bringing yourself into the present by listening to something and allowing your mind to focus on something that isn’t the traffic in front of you.
4. MAKE A GRATITUDE LIST
If you’re on Hessa Street at 6pm, you know you’re going to be a while, so you have time to note down a list of 10 things you’re grateful for. The first one being that you’re not the person who’s the reason behind the traffic. That will shift your mindset immediately. You haven’t been in an accident, you haven’t burst a tyre, and you haven’t got to explain to your husband why you lost a wing mirror; all relevant to your list. Whether your commute is stressful or relaxing is entirely dependent on the thoughts you have during this time. You control how you feel about this, so choose to feel grateful.
5. STOP THE ‘WHAT IFS’
Freaking out that your bestie is going to get stolen à la Taken if you don’t meet her at the exact time discussed because of this pesky traffic? You create a entire catastrophic scenario in your mind knowing you don’t have the same skill set as Liam Neeson. Breathe. Whether you’re stressing about how your husband will react to you being late to a dinner date you insisted on, or missing a doctor’s appointment for being 20 minutes late, you’re worrying about a ‘what if’. It might be absolutely fine, so don’t waste your energy until you get to it. Continuously running imagined plots again and again in your head makes for more anxiety than the traffic itself.