Mental health matters. That’s a small line, but it speaks volumes. If you could see how depression affects relationships, even the best of ones, you’d find it hard to say that it doesn’t. But the problem is that it’s hard to look for the problem when you can’t see it.

Mental illness is like an invisible hand that touches you and your loved ones before you even figure it out. So what do you do? Relax. That’s half of the whole thing, but it gets really hard when you actually start to get into it. It’s hard to calm down when all of your body feels like it wants to shut down.

While driving might not be the best thing to do at that time, you could use it to relax before you even get to that point. It can calm the nerves. So before you go on a road trip to get that road relaxation, here are three reasons why driving can feel great and help with your mental health.

It Gives You A Sense Of Freedom

When you’ve been cooped up for far too long in your house, perhaps due to lockdowns, the walls of your room tend to feel like a different kind of wall. They become a little more like a barrier between yourself and the dangerous outside world. Going outside feels so vulnerable. But staying inside becomes a little more like drowning in an aquarium.

Being in a car quite gives a kind of safety between you and everything else. After all, you’re in a huge chunk of metal and glass. No viruses getting in there. But you are also moving around. You’re not stuck in a cage of walls and cement anymore.

But even without the pandemic, driving sort of gives out that calming sense of freedom. When you are on the steering wheel going wherever you want, nobody can ever stop you from going anywhere. You have control. You’re bringing yourself to places that you decide. Nobody else gets to choose but you.

It Puts You On A Trance-Like State

When you’re driving, you are not thinking 100% all the time. Part of it is just muscle memory. When you shift your gears or control your pedals, you’ve probably done them so often that you don’t even think about it. This can bring you into a trance state–one where you are neither 100% alert nor 100% not thinking.

And trance states are great because that’s when you go into meditation mode. While driving, the mind stops becoming too alert all the time because it’s too tiring. But it also does not go to sleep. You can think all throughout your time without nodding off to sleep.

This does mean that there are other things you could do instead of driving but bring you to the same state. But there is more to driving than just what you feel. It brings out one more thing: something you could be proud of.

Being A Good Driver Feels Like A Good Achievement

Driving is a skill. And a good driver has good skills. This matters for your mental health for two reasons: it brings you a sense of accomplishment and a topic of discussion for socialization. When you come to associate driving with these things, you’ll feel great about being in the driver’s seat.

It’s one thing to get from point A to point B. But it’s another just to get there efficiently. Some folks like to think that they should focus on speed. Others want the smoothest ride possible. Whichever you choose describes who you are as a driver. And doing great on it feels like an achievement on its own.

Then when you get to talk to other drivers about it, the skill then becomes useful for socialization. You could ask better drivers for advice while teaching newer ones your skills. There are also groups like off-road clubs and race car tracks where you could test your skills against other drivers outside the highway.

But before all that, remember getting to that point means you’ll be taking driving in as a hobby. And ultimately driving, on its own, can relax both you and your mind.