A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of guiding a professional NHS therapist through her driving test. What I got from her, that I would like to share with you is a series of stress-busting strategies that I use for myself and my pupils.
The first group of these strategies are physical. Stress shows itself in our bodies so if we can get our bodies to relax this will help to reduce stress.
The first of these is chewing gum. It goes along the lines of if you are chewing gum your brain thinks that your body is eating. It’s safe to eat, we do it every day, therefore your body can relax a bit more. If you look at some of the most highly stressed people in the world, premiership football managers. You will quite often see them chewing gum.
If you were to google the benefits of chewing gum you will be pleasantly surprised by the sheer number of benefits. The act of chewing can increase oxygen to the brain, which increases alertness and memory. A 2008 study led by Australian researcher Andrew Scholey, a professor of behavioural and brain sciences at Swinburne University in Melbourne, showed that chewing gum reduced the stress hormone Cortisol in participants. They reported feeling less stressed and more alert.
As a driving instructor, I always have some gum in my training vehicle and within easy reach of my pupil. I always tell my pupils it’s there for them and to help themselves. I make a point of the fact they do not need to ask and I offer if I think they could do with reminding of it. So, if you ever feel stressed when you’re driving, reach for the gum!