You overslept – barely had time to shower – skipped breakfast – finally get in the car to leave – spill coffee all over your shirt – and to top it all off, end up getting stuck at every red light on your way to the office.
We’ve all had mornings like this. Typically we’ve had way too many mornings like this. When this happens we become more and more aggravated as the morning progresses – eventually leading up to red lights.
Oh the dreaded red lights. This is where we snap, lose it, freak out. Where we let our not so great morning set the tone for the remainder of the day that lies ahead of us.
OR maybe you’re just running a few minutes late to a meeting – it took a little longer than normal to get the kids off to school so you’re pushing it to make it for your appointment. Heck, you could even be on time or ahead of schedule.
No matter what the scenario is – red lights always seem to cause stress. If you’re having a spout of road rage – forget it. You’re done for when it comes to stopping at a red light.
The Red Light Stigma
The gist of this is that stopping at a red light has a stigma of stress, anxiety, anger and running late. Think about it – whenever someone is a minute late they say “Sorry, I got stuck at every red light.” Even though they’re only a minute late they look stressed and seem to be a little all over the place.
Reflect back to when you were a kid – sitting in the back seat of the car while your parents were driving to your cousin’s birthday party. They hit one red light and give an eye roll. Hit another red light and give off a heavy sigh. Hit a third and they’re huffing and puffing throwing a fit about it.
We are conditioned to believe that stopping at a red light is a bad thing and that it will cause issues for us.
Changing Our Thought Process
Even though red lights have this stigma of stress they can have the total opposite effect on us. They can make us feel more calm and at peace. This can be achieved by breaking the red light stigma.
First things first, when you pull up to a red light simply take a few deep breaths in and big exhales out. When we pull up to a red light our natural reaction is to feel uneasy – our heart rate begins to increase due to unknown anxiety – and this turns into stress. Pulling up to the light – if you begin right away with deep breathing you will keep your heart rate closer to your normal level.
Use the few minutes that you’re “stuck” at the light to meditate. If your morning started off a bit rocky – use each red light to bring yourself back to center. To show yourself that a bad start to your day does not have to define the rest of the day.
Meditate by deep breathing – counting breaths – listing all the things that went well this morning. No matter how you choose to meditate, focus on the good.
FREE Mindfulness Guide
Dance Like Nobody’s Watching
Take this time to let loose. Put on your favorite song and jam out. Dance like crazy – sing along – go nuts like nobody’s watching. If they are – smile and wave when the light turns green and you drive away. It is just you, your music and your car. Use this as your safe space to just let it all out.
Enjoy the quiet time that red lights provide. Listen to your surroundings. Hear the birds chirping – the radio playing in the car next to you – just simply be present and listen. Bask in the stillness of the moment.
Most people say they come up with their ideas while in the shower or driving. Use this free time to leave yourself a voice memo of the brilliant idea you just thought of. Make note of the ways you’ve thought of to turn it into something great.
This allows you the opportunity to leave yourself notes of thoughts that pop into your head. Set aside ten minutes a night and listen to that day’s voice memos – and decide what ideas you want to act on. I think you’ll surprise yourself with how creative you really are when it comes to problem solving too.
I’d say this one is a biggie – especially if you’re always on the go from one meeting to the next. The drive to and from are probably the only time you have to breath and think throughout the day.
Hopefully by now you’re rethinking red lights and want to break the stigma. Try some of these practices the next time you find yourself running late again. I’m sure you’ll find that it helps reset the tone for your day.