Stressed out? Jump in the car and hit the road!

Ford Ranger. Image: Quickpic
Ford Ranger. Image: Quickpic

• Cape Town and Johannesburg rank among the 100 busiest cities in the world for motorists.

• Driving stresses can cause health complications, tension and poor judgement.

• Ford uses International Stress Awareness Day to recommend off-roading as a means to alleviate stress. 

If your're a motorist in South Africa, it's likely you've experienced some form of road rage. We hope that you've managed to keep your cool in a heated situation and not react violently. 

Perhaps one of the more common examples of road rage or stress caused while driving is congestion. Data provided by global research firm Inrix shows that Johannesburg is currently the 71st busiest city in the world for motorists, placing behind Cape Town, which ranks 29th globally.

With these worrying trends that show no signs of improving, it has become increasingly difficult to arrive at your destination feeling relaxed. Instead, stress from the commute is often carried into the work environment and personal lives where it has undesired outcomes on one's own performance, health and social interactions.

Studies like the one conducted by the IBM Commuter Pain Index shows there's a link between traffic congestion and increased stress levels. Ford South Africa reckons despite traditional methods being recommended to combat the stress linked to traffic congestion, the carmaker suggests an alternative to effective stress management – an off-road adventure!

Even the shortest, most routine journey on South Africa's often chaotic roads can cause an increase in stress levels. The inability to control the situation or the actions of other drivers can often manifest in a number of symptoms, according to The American Institute of Stress, including rapid pulse, forgetfulness, frustration and general aches and pains.

If this stress is not managed correctly, it can quickly result in accidents from poor judgement, road rage from tension and panic attacks that can have other health complications.

Ford. Image: Motorpress.

We're fortunate to have thousands of kilometres of great roads to explore in South Africa and that means getting outdoors and off the beaten track is relatively simple and can almost be done on the spur of the moment. One doesn’t need to drive far out of the city in order to surround oneself with open spaces and general peacefulness.

Off-roading is also a great form of therapy for prioritising what’s important and concentrating only on the task ahead, Ford SA says. Taking control as your 4x4 vehicle climbs, straddles, and splashes its way through an off-road obstacle course can release endorphins, dopamine and serotine chemicals in the brain. These instantly elevate your mood, make you feel more alert and bring balance to the body’s nervous system.

Ford. Image: Motorpress

"I’ve seen the profound effect that our off-road course has on people who lead busy lives stuck inside this relentless traffic cycle." Gideo Basson, Ford South Africa's off-road chief instructor for the Ford Adventure Club.

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