Driving to and from work every day can put physical and mental strain on the body. Stop-and-go traffic and unpredictable drivers can make your daily commute nerve-wracking. Even commuting alone can take a toll on mental and physical health, says Psychology Today. Commuters who drive more than 10 miles each way experience higher cholesterol and blood sugar levels, Time reports, probably from the time spent sitting in one place. Blood pressure can spike as well. And to top it off, commuting for more than 30 minutes raises anxiety levels.
Here are five ways to lessen the anxiety and irritability your commute might be causing.
1. Listen to something interesting
Audiobooks and podcasts capture your attention better than hearing the same songs, rants and jokes over and over again on the radio. Listen to something enriching, not noise that irritates or burdens you.
2. Make Sure You’re Physically Comfortable
Long commutes can also aggravate the back, legs, neck and eyes. Here are a few simple modifications that can relieve discomfort:
- Sit on a cushion designed to provide lumbar and lower-back support.
- A cushioned seat belt strap ends irritating strap rub.
- Always wear sunglasses. Polarized lenses used during the commute reduces eye strain from the sun’s glare off snow and other reflective surfaces you may pass. They also help if your commute puts you in the path of sunrises and sunsets.
- Bring a change of clothing and shoes. If you have to dress up for your job, changing into something comfortable for a long drive can make a huge difference.
3. Change Your Route Home Once in a While
Try taking different routes home from work. Variety can be a useful stimulant and even if another route takes a few more minutes, it can take the edge off the usual routine. (If you’ve found a reliable, timely way to get to work, you may want to stick to that route.)
4. If Time Permits, Run Errands
If it’s possible, break up the commute by stopping to pick up a prescription or snack, or do your grocery shopping on the way home. Your body will surely appreciate the break from the driver’s seat and your mind will have something different to focus on than the same drive each and every day.
5. Consider Carpooling or Public Transportation
Very few people actually carpool. The U.S. Census Bureau says more than three-quarters of all people who drive to work are alone in their cars. Being alone for long periods of time every day can be an isolating experience, says Psychology Today.
If a regular carpool isn’t an option, ask around the office to see if there’s someone who lives along your route. Perhaps you can pick up or drop off this person once or twice a week. Having company in the car can be a huge benefit. Studies in Sweden and England found that commuters who used public transportation suffered less from stress and social isolation than those who drove alone.
If public transit is out of the question (and many American cities and suburbs have very poor transit), an occasional or regular passenger could be quite beneficial. Is there a better way to start the day than a cheery “hello!” from a new work buddy?
How To Stay Calm In Daily Traffic
By Guest Author: Clayton Truscott
“Image courtesy of EA / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”
The drive to and from work can be a taxing experience. There’s nothing quite like starting your day off by spending forty-five minutes on the freeway, staring aimlessly into the rear windshield of the car in front of you, idling at twelve miles an hour – and then repeating the process nine hours later. It’s an unnatural and inhuman routine that probably causes more horn wars and road rage than just about any other aspect of automobile culture.
So how do you hold it together in traffic? What’s the recipe for not losing one’s marbles when getting to and from work everyday? Here’s six ideas:
6. Good Music
It’s said that music can calm savage beasts – even beasts that have been stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the I80 West for twenty minutes without moving. Having some decent tunes in the car goes a long way to deactivating explosive outbursts. Set your music to shuffle and enjoy what comes up – don’t try to change songs every five minutes, because you’ll be the one causing an accident sooner or later.
5. Audio Books
Most people don’t read because they don’t have time or because they fall asleep within two pages. In the car, you don’t have the luxury of either. If the radio is driving you crazy and you’re desperate to finally read War and Peace, why not invest in a few audiobooks to keep you entertained on the drive home.
4. Timing Is Everything
As insane as it seems, sacrificing twenty minutes of sleep to hit the road early will go a long way to quelling your road rage. If your route to work is busiest between 8 and 9 o’clock, leave at 7:40. At the same time, if the roads are clogged until 5:30 – 6 p.m., find something to keep you busy until the traffic calms down. If traffic is really starting to ruin your life, bring up the idea of flexi-time with your boss.
3. Find Alternative Routes
Take some time to find a quieter road to work. Nowadays there are apps and websites that even do most of the research for you – Waze, for example. It might not necessarily be a ‘short cut’, but at least you’ll be preserving your mental health.
If you can, cycle to work when the weather suits – or better yet, make it a permanent habit. It’s great exercise, environmentally sound, fun and (best of all) your bicycle will cut through traffic like a ninja sword.
1. Learn To Love It
If you’re not in a position to kit your vehicle out with decent music and you’re on a fixed schedule that can’t be altered, all whilst living too far away from work to cycle or avoid freeways, there’s only one option here: learn to love the traffic. Working yourself into a spitting rage and honking at every car in your path will probably give you a heart attack.
Clayton Truscott is the content director at i9media in San Diego. Born and raised in South Africa, learning to drive on the right hand side of the road and follow American road signs has turned him into an overly-cautious driver. He has a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing and has published articles in newspapers, magazines and online.
You can follow more of Clayton’s work at: http://www.aaaastorage.com/