This blows my mind. A British study has found that the amount of stress (as measured by heart rate and blood pressure) commuters stuck in traffic feel is greater than that of riot police and combat pilots. The reason (of course): being unable to do anything to change your situation (guns and bombs don’t make good tactical weapons in a traffic jam). I don’t know about you, but I know I’ve felt close to blowing a gasket when I pull up to a dead stop (or, say, 12 miles an hour) behind countless cars on an endless highway and have no idea what’s causing it or how long it’s going to last.
The ONLY thing I’ve found helpful in those circumstances is something called the cleansing breath. It’s a yoga technique I learned a really long time ago, and I’ve learned since that it has a sound basis in science (you alter your brain wave patterns when you control your breathing in certain ways). Honestly, if I can calm myself enough to do this technique, it takes only a few breaths before my state of mind is transformed–from a state very near rage to one of feeling relatively calm and in control. Here it is:
- Put your thumb and your middle finger on the side of each nostril.
- Squeeze both nostrils shut.
- Now release one nostril as you count slowly to 8 and breathe in (try to breathe through the back of your throat, making a little noise, almost as if you were trying to snuffle in when you’re congested).
- When you reach the count of 8, close that nostril (both are closed now) and hold your breath for a slow count of 8.
- Now open the nostril opposite the first one and slowly exhale (same way, including the back of your throat) to a slow count of 8.
- Once you get to 8, repeat the process starting the inhale with the nostril you exhaled through.
I know, I know. It sounds kind of nuts. But trust me. It’s a very powerful technique for regaining a sense of control anytime you feel trapped.
Oh, and here’s another item from the same source (www.odemagazine.com) on second-hand smoke: leaving a diesel car running in a garage for XX minutes yields YY amount of pollution. Burning 3 cigarettes in the same space for 30 minutes yields pollution 10 times what the car left.