STRESS is a factor that is entering more and more into the lives of drivers.
There is no doubt that stress can affect our judgement and be a contributory factor in road accidents.
A staggering 49 per cent of sick days and two fifths of work-related ill health in 2016/17 was caused by work-related stress, depression or anxiety according to a survey by the Health and Safety Executive.
Automotive-linked charity Ben Support for Life has come up with some valuable advice on how to combat stress before it becomes unmanageable and transmits into a factor that can cost lives on the road.
Firstly, it is important to recognise the warning signs.
These can include feeling irritable or impatient; becoming forgetful or losing attention to detail, mood swings, not being able to ‘switch off'; becoming withdrawn and under or over-eating.
Other telltale signs are an increased consumption of nicotine, alcohol or drugs; tense muscles, headaches, nausea and insomnia.
On the road this often translates into irritability at the wheel, impatience, road rage and lack of attention.
Try to work out what's making you feel stressed. If you're not sure, try writing down what you're doing each time you feel stressed. You may notice a pattern. Is there anything you can do now to take control of the situation?
Doing exercise releases endorphins, which improve your mood, as well as distracting you from any stress you're experiencing. Find a sport or activity that you enjoy and try to fit it into your routine. Even a half-hour walk around the block can help to relieve tension.
Another good form of exercise, and effective stress-buster, is to put on your favourite song and dance around the house to it.
Almost 25per cent of people in Britain have problems with sleep on a regular basis, according to The Sleep Council. Getting enough good quality sleep is a crucial part of our overall wellbeing and can actually help reduce stress and anxiety
Stress levels of adult smokers are slightly higher than non-smokers and adolescent smokers report increasing levels of stress as they develop regular smoking patterns. Nicotine dependency makes stress worse as smokers tend to rely on it to control their mood.
It isn't healthy to use alcohol as a way of de-stressing or coping with issues, nor is it safe for drivers.
Eva Cyhlarova from The Mental Health Foundation says: "Over time, heavy drinking interferes with the neurotransmitters in the brain that are needed for good mental health. While alcohol may help deal with stress in the short term, in the long run it can contribute to feeling of depression and anxiety and make stress harder to deal with."