Mar 262013

secrets to enjoying a stress-free commute

The stress of commuting is a serious challenge for many working adults. Your commute might feel like the worst, most stressful part of your day. It can affect your mental energy, emotions, and interactions for hours afterwards. Thankfully, you can take constructive steps to eliminate your stress before, during, and after your daily commute.

Stress management techniques to use before your commute

  1. Get an early start.

    Go to bed early and head out before the morning crowd. Prepare whatever you can the night before, including selecting your clothes and gathering the items you need to take with you. You’ll feel more relaxed when you give yourself plenty of time in the morning.

  2. Avoid the evening rush.

    Schedule activities or make plans after work to avoid rushing home. For example, you could take a yoga class or meet up with friends. By sitting out the evening rush hour, you may arrive home around the same time and you’ll fill your time with less stressful activities.

  3. Explore flexible work hours.

    If your employer seems receptive, propose a schedule that would enable you to fulfill your responsibilities while shortening your commute time. You may be able to work from home or rotate your hours.

  4. Consider other transportation options.

    Look into public transportation and carpooling. If you travel a short distance, you could bike or walk to work some days. By taking one more car off the road during rush hour, you’re doing a good deed for yourself, your neighbors, and the environment.

  5. Keep yourself fit.

    Keeping yourself healthy will make you more resilient to any kind of stress. Eat a nutritious diet, get adequate sleep, and exercise regularly.

Stress management techniques to use during your commute

  1. Practice positive thinking.

    Try responding to aggressive drivers with kindness instead of anger. When you get stuck in traffic or face delays, focus on your evening plans instead of allowing yourself to become frustrated and angry.

  2. Use relaxation exercises.

    Find relaxation methods that soothe you. You may benefit from taking a few deep breaths. Visualizing mountain lakes or cute puppies can give you an instant uplift.

  3. Make it ergonomic.

    Adjust your car seat to promote good posture. Use a cushion if you need extra back support. During long commutes, change positions frequently to avoid strain and backache.

  4. Make it fun.

    Listen to your favorite music or audiobooks. Learn a foreign language with an audio course. If you take the train or bus, you could use your laptop or smartphone to read the news or watch a movie.

Stress management techniques to use after your commute

  1. Clear your mind.

    When your daily commute is over, switch your mind to the present moment. Leave behind thoughts of traffic jams and crowded trains so you can enjoy your evening.

  2. Give yourself a warm welcome.

    Design a ritual you enjoy to unwind and put yourself in a pleasant state of mind. Sit down with a cup of green tea or walk your dog. Play basketball with your kids or watch the news with your spouse.

  3. Shorten your commute.

    Suburban sprawl has created daily commutes of an hour or more for many adults. In the end, you may want to factor commuting time into your decisions about where to live and work. Even moving into a smaller home closer to your workplace may be a wise trade-off if it allows you to spend more time with family.

Your daily commute can significantly influence your peace of mind and the amount of quality time you devote to the people and pastimes you love. By planning, you can banish the stress of commuting and focus more on living the life you desire.


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