Although there's not much you can do about Manila's traffic as a whole (since that's supposed to be the government's responsibility), there is something you can do about how you react to the situation. Next time you feel your blood pressure rise while you're in a gridlock, here are some handy tips to keep in mind.
Take a deep breath while counting to 10.
It's easy to get angry when you're stuck in traffic. After all, you're already half an hour late, you're burning up under the summer sun, and why is the traffic light not working? Besides, anger is a natural response to stress, disappointment, and similar feelings.
However, uncontrolled anger can do you more harm than good. If you feel like slamming your horn as loudly as you can, take a deep breath, count "one," take another deep breath, count "two," and so on and so forth. Keep counting until you feel your anger dissipating, or until you're too tired to count anymore.
Play relaxing music.
When your hackles are rising, the last thing you want to do is listen to a piece of news that talks about how things are going not-so-well in the world. Instead, tune in to a station that plays classical music (or, at least, classic music) all day long.
Alternatively, plug your favorite calming songs into your car's music player. Depending on your car's configuration, you can enjoy an mp3 player through a car stereo via cassette player adapter, FM transmitter, Bluetooth, line-in jack, or built-in music player jack.
Plug in a podcast.
If you like to learn on-the-go, listening to a podcast is a great way to kill time. You can download an audio version of a book for free, or tune in to a 30-minute to hour-long episode about your favorite topic under the sun. As long as it keeps your mind occupied when traffic's getting you down, that's the only thing that matters.
Bring snacks and drinks.
Sometimes, Manila's traffic gets so bad, you'll be lucky if you can make it out by lunchtime or dinner. If you already feel your stomach growling, or your throat parching, it's best to have food or drink within reach. Make sure the food you eat won't leave crumbs inside your car, and that you have a plastic bag to stash your trash and keep your car clean.
Play a game.
Remember the classic "I Spy" game? It's a fun way to keep your mind distracted while you're in traffic. For example, you can count how many green cars there are, how many license plates end in "8," or how many yellow-colored billboards are there along the highway. If you have other people with you, all the better.
Clean up your car.
See a speck of dust on your dashboard? Brush it off. Does the seat beside the driver's smell funny? Consider changing the car seat upholstery (if you have a spare piece). Is the dashboard doll tilted at an angle you don't quite like? Tilt it back to the angle you like.
Clean up yourself.
If you have a mirror, this shouldn't be too hard. Check if you have wrinkles on your collar, smudged makeup on your face, or traces of food on your teeth. Even if you have to tell your boss that you're late because of the heavy traffic, you don't want to look like you just came through a hurricane!
Come up with other ways to have fun.
Surviving traffic doesn't have to be "serious business." Aside from the ones already mentioned above, you can also:
- Sing or hum along to a song on the radio.
- Make your own song by drumming your fingers on the wheel or dashboard.
- Wave and/or smile at another passenger. You never know who needs it!
- Test your adjustable car seat(s) to see if they're working.
- Chew a piece of gum, and blow it as large as you can.
- Write a short story in a notebook, or dictate it into a recorder.
If you're afraid that you'll distract yourself too much and miss the green light, you can just wait patiently until traffic moves along. You don't need to have the coolest way to kill time in traffic: If doing nothing works for you, why let anyone convince you otherwise?
As the old saying goes, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." By the same token, when Manila gives you traffic, do what you can not to let it get the better of you.