How to Quash Driving Anxiety with a Power Pose

The next time you’re driving down the road and feel that familiar anxiety or driving fear creeping in, take note of how you’re sitting. Ten bucks says your shoulders are tense, your face may be scrunched up and you’re stooped over like an insect that just got punched in the stomach.

While such an observation may not be a huge revelation, something else can be. That thing is called a power pose.

If that sounds like a posture you’d be likely to see from Superman or Wonder Woman, you’re on the right track. But superheroes are not the only ones who can benefit from practicing a power pose; it can help you, too. You don’t even have to wear tights or bullet-proof bracelets (unless, of course, you want to).

The pose is getting gads of attention, thanks to researchers Amy Cuddy, Dana Carney, Caroline Wilmuth, and Andy Yap, as noted by Positive Psychology News Daily. The attention is coming from the poses’ amazing ability to actually change your outlook and dissipate anxiety. Before we get into the benefits, let’s start with a firm understanding of what the thing is.

What it is

The power pose is any posture that is open and expansive. You find it in superheroes and other confident folks. A power pose’s opposite is the contracted, hunched over posture that the timid, shy and anxious often exhibit. Such a pose makes a person appear smaller, as if they are wishing the ground would open up to swallow them whole.

Why you care 

Doing a power pose for as few as 60 seconds can make a world of difference due the pose’s effect on your body.

“One minute of taking a power pose can lower cortisol levels (a hormone associated with stress), increase testosterone levels (a hormone that lessens fear), increase the capacity for cognitive function, lower stress, and increase feelings of power and the tolerance for risk-taking,” according to the researchers’ findings reported in Positive Psychology News Daily. 

There’s more. 

When it comes to power, the mind shapes the body,” researcher Cuddy says in CNN, “a finding supported by extensive peer-reviewed science. This, to most of us, is not so surprising. But what is surprising, when it comes to power, is that the body also shapes the mind.”

That means your hunched-over driving posture is likely to be fueling your driving anxiety and fears, helping it fester into full-fledged driving phobia. Take a cue instead from a few power pose examples to use your body to shape the state of your mind.

How to use it

While the pose examples involve standing or sitting with your feet up, you can use parts of the pose while you’re driving. You can also try a full pose before you get into your car.

Standing poses involve placing your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips, or raising your arms to form a “V.”  A sitting power pose involves propping your legs on a surface in front of you, leaning back, and interlacing your fingers behind your head with your elbows pointing outward.

While driving, try to upper-body half at red lights or when it’s safe to do so. Such a small change in your pose can result in big results for quashing your driving anxiety.