Driving your own four wheels is undeniably convenient. Cars allow hassle-free traveling from place to place and at the same time enable you to bring friends and families with you. But have you thought of the other ways how cars affect your life aside from being a handy means of transportation?
Perhaps you haven’t given it much thought, but cars impact your whole well-being and mental health more than you’re aware of. Cars can give you a sense of comfort; however, it could also give you stress.
Why Do We Buy Cars?
As we talk about cars and their effect on your mental health, we need to answer the whys, such as, why do we buy cars? Experts say that there are a couple of psychological, societal, and cultural reasons for it.
These reasons ultimately affect how we perceive and value owning a car, including the meanings we attach to it.
Cars Give Us Comfort And Prestige
While we have mentioned how cars give us comfort, there’s a much deeper level than that. The comfort that cars provide us is in the level of security. According to some experts, this security level comes with a sense of pride and prestige.
Possessing something expensive makes us feel good because it tells us that we are thriving in this society. Cars can also be a status symbol, and sometimes acquiring that status gives us pride and a sense of self-identity.
Car Projects Are A Form Of Art
Some car enthusiasts take pleasure and satisfaction in taking time and effort to either build or restore their cars, which are called car projects. These car projects are a form of art.
From finding the right pieces to putting them together to improve its overall look, it takes talent, precision, and perseverance.
In this regard, car projects as a form of art have numerous mental health benefits. The arts stimulate neural connections, improve moods, can be an outlet for better emotion management.
Driving Challenges The Mind
Another benefit of cars is that driving them enhances our minds. Studies have shown that people who learn how to drive show improvement in their problem-solving skills and muscle coordination.
Your brains are challenged to form new skills as you learn how to juggle between various stimuli all at once until driving becomes an automated activity.
Apart from this, driving can also help you with emotion regulation. It can help improve your sense of self-control, independence, and freedom to help with anxiety and even depression. And this brings us to another benefit of cars on mental health as a form of therapy.
Cars Can Be A Form Of Therapy
While driving may often be associated with road rage and carelessness, some studies showcase its opposite side.
Just as traveling in itself is a good stress reliever, driving can be a form of relaxation, too. Getting behind the wheels while cruising at a moderate speed, with a scenic view, can take your mind off of things.
It serves as a buffer for negative emotions. The fresh air outside increases oxygen levels in the blood and can significantly improve mood.
Also, if you would remember, driving enhances your problem-solving skills. It can be instrumental if you’re facing overwhelming worries that cloud your mind. Driving lets you slowly grapple with your thoughts and cluster them accordingly.
However, take this benefit with precaution. Not all situations with intense emotion are safe triggers for a drive off.
If you are too overwhelmed with anger, anxiety, or depression, it might be best to sit back or do something else. Extreme emotions can be challenging to handle and might hinder the awareness required when driving.
Another breakthrough finding is the therapeutic benefit of cars among older adults in recalling and discussing memories.
Double-Edged Sword Effect Of Cars On Mental Health
Just like any other thing we enjoy, too much of anything can be harmful. When you rely too much on cars’ prestige and societal symbols, it can eventually negatively impact your mental health.
First of all, you may feel unstable when you put your sole value and worth on material possession. Material possessions like cars wither away over time and lose their value and depreciate.
If you obsess with constantly wanting to have the next big thing, you might end up like a dog chasing its tail. The chase doesn’t stop because there’s no end line, and there will always be a new model.
While it is not necessarily wrong to stay updated with the latest car models or even the latest gadgets, it can be unhealthy in the long run. Although doing so can make you happy, it becomes harmful if it’s the be-all-end-all path to happiness and security.
Secondly, just as car enthusiasm builds community and social connection, it can also form negative ones. This second path of loving cars is similar to how fixation with societal prestige can go down the road.
Unhealthy relationships built upon envy, lust, and competition can arise from materialistic centered motivations.
Lastly, it is a given that driving comes with both physical and mental risks. Apart from being at risk of road accidents, driving can be stressful, especially if the conditions are not ideal.
But moreover, a study also found that longer driving time is also associated with poor health-related behaviors. Some of these include smoking, excessive alcohol use, unhealthy eating and sleeping habits, and physical inactivity.
Cars can, surprisingly, become a relaxation exercise. Apart from convenience, cars seem to have marked well in society. It has been part of our life goals. Beyond cars’ materialism and status symbols, it’s more important to see it as a starter of creativity, relationships, and relaxation.