If you have ever found yourself zoning out on the road, you are not alone. Known in the scientific community as “mind wandering,” it is the brain’s default state 25-50 percent of the time. When your environment is not stimulating your brain, it is easy for the mind to wander. It can occur during any monotonous task such as driving in the dark or on an empty highway.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not easily solved by listening to the radio or drinking a cup of coffee. Check out our top tips on how to focus your mind on the road.
Healthy eating can be a challenge, especially when you are on the road. Avoid eating fast-food or gas station food and try to meal prep instead. This will not only save time but will prevent you from feeling bloated or sleepy. Avoid large portions and try to snack regularly to stay alert.
When you are feeling sleepy on the road, you may be tempted to grab a cup of coffee or an energy drink. However, caffeine can increase anxiety and insomnia, negatively affecting your sleep in the long run. If you need a boost, grab some freshly squeezed juice or protein shakes. These will fill your body with vitamins and other nutrients to keep you going, without making you crash.
Lack of sleep can reduce your ability to focus your mind on the road. Over time, sleep deprivation can take a big toll on your mental functioning and make you more prone to zoning out. A restful night of sleep can help you stay alert during those long hours on the road.
Sleep is not the only kind of rest you need to consider. Make sure you are mentally and emotionally rested as well. People who are stressed or overwhelmed may use zoning out as a coping tactic. Meditation and grounding techniques are great tools for combatting stress and anxiety.
Meditation and Grounding Techniques
The best technique for preventing mind wandering is meditation. Practicing meditation techniques allows you to control your attention and more regularly notice when it has drifted. Not only are these tactics great for improving your focus, but they also reduce stress and increase your general well-being.
Of course, we are not suggesting you should meditate while driving. During your breaks, after a shift, or early in the morning, take ten minutes to practice meditation. There are several applications that can guide your meditation if you are not sure where to start. Headspace offers practical articles and techniques to practice mindfulness and meditation, and improve your sleep and stress levels. Calm is another great app that reminds you to practice daily meditation.
If you do not have time to meditate, grounding techniques are quick solutions to bring you into the present. Try breathing exercises, stretching, or shocking your senses to stay focused. A few things to try include splashing your face with cold water, intentionally savoring your food, or taking note of the scents or sounds around you.
Keep Things Interesting
While habits are helpful for your productivity, consistently driving on the same road means your brain will know what to expect and zone out. Take new routes, explore different truck stops, eat new foods, or listen to a different podcast to keep your brain guessing.