Six Ways to De-Stress Your Commute

Six Ways to De-Stress Your CommuteJason has the nice life. Loving family, nice home, and a job he really enjoys. Which is why it was a helluva shock when he snapped at his boss over an innocent question.

Yelling at your boss to stop snooping in your personal life when all he asked is whether your weekend went okay is a sign - something needs to change. Jason knew exactly what it was: his commute.

45 minutes from one side of town to another, all on a crowded, snarled highway. Every morning Jason would fight it, weaving in and out, smashing the gas and slamming the brakes. He’d wave his middle finger at drivers and pretend they could hear him yelling. It was intense, but by the time he’d arrive at the office he would calm down.

Until the day he told Mr. Thomas to shove his snooping questions where the sun don’t shine. On that day, Jason realized he needed to do something about that intense commute.

There are over 128 million commuters in the US, and over a third of those are rushing across cities from suburb to suburb like Jason, usually via overcrowded highways. 75% of all commuters are alone, meaning there are at least 100 million cars battling each other to get ahead and arrive at the office on time (stats from the US Census).

We’ve posted before about the importance of morning routines. It’s important to get a good night’s rest, followed by some quiet time, maybe a workout, and a good breakfast. The commute is also a critical aspect of a good routine, and for many it’s where their day of stress is truly kicked into high gear.

In Jason’s case, he tried a few different tactics to transform his commute from rage-inducing hell ride into something that helped springboard him positively into the rest of his day. Some of them are included in these six ideas, any of which we think will work for you:

 Slow down - The obvious suggestion, but it bears stating. Leave earlier to give yourself more time. Ease into the slow lane, and let the Mario Andretti’s pass you by. You’ll realize that for all your speeding and aggression, it only made a difference of a couple minutes at best.

 Try public transit - Public transit gets a bad rap, but it’s great way to get to and from work. Why? Because you don’t have to worry about driving. Chances are you’ll be able to sit down and plug in your headphones or open a book.

 Find a carpool - Part of the problem of a commute is the solitude and being left alone to one’s thoughts. Try riding with a couple coworkers from your area. The conversation will help take your mind off your work woes - just be sure riding with coworkers doesn’t turn into one long bitch session about the office. Like public transit, you’ll be helping the earth by removing at least one vehicle from the roads. Some cities even offer monthly rental vans so 10 or more can ride together.

Try an alternate route - Simply avoiding the highway can help. Sure, your commute will be longer, but the change of scenery may help put your mind in a better place. Just be careful around school zones and neighborhoods.

 Hop on a bike - Ditch your car altogether and get a workout instead. A $500 investment in a commuter bike can pay for itself quickly in health benefits and money saved on gas.

Learn something - Instead of your usual zany morning show or hard-pumping metal, try listening to something that stimulates your mind. If you have an iPhone, try a podcast; there are thousands on topics from economic theory to entomology and beyond. other options are foreign language training or even singing.

Instead of coming into work already pissed off and ready to fight, Jason’s commute is now a time when he’s able to place his mind in a better, more peaceful frame. Sometimes he bikes in, sometimes he takes the light rail, but he’s learning Spanish, thanks to the audio course he rented from his local library.

Don’t underestimate the effect a pleasant commute can have on the rest of your day. A peaceful life can often be attributed to making the best of the things you control. You can’t control what other drivers are doing, but you can control your own situation. By eliminating stress where you can, you’ll be better suited to deal with it when it’s out of your hands.

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