The average commute in the United States is just over 25 minutes one way. Unfortunately for Americans, studies have shown commuting for more than 20 minutes can cause chronic stress.
Mental stress leads to increased levels of cortisol, which produces inflammatory chemicals that encourage symptoms of depression and anxiety. It can also increase blood pressure and lead to fatigue and irritability. I know it does for me.
Some people don’t have the luxury of living only a few miles from where they work. This means that every day, especially during the infamous rush hour, thousands of people endure a grueling commute.
I can’t control traffic, of course, but I started to wonder what I could do to make my drive less arduous and, dare I say, pleasurable. While listening to my favorite playlist is enjoyable and planning my day is useful, I found better ways to de-stress on my daily commute.
My commute, with average traffic, is around 45 minutes one way. This means that I’m in my car for an hour and 15 minutes every day, adding up to nearly 9 hours per week. When you think about it, this is a lot of wasted time year over year. But thanks to The Zebra, I’ve learned some better practices to start implementing during my drive.
Sometimes I treat myself to a yummy breakfast or drink on the go. I know, I know. Fast food and expensive coffee add up to hurt my bank account and my waistline, but moderation is key. Getting a special treat once a week or once every other week can change the entire day. I find that it can even make my hectic week more bearable.
Calling a friend or loved one also puts me in a good mood as I can chat about my personal life, vent, or just joke around. I even get creative by taking new routes. Who knows? Maybe one of them will turn out to be an amazing shortcut.
There are many other tips you can implement into your stressful commute. Try listening to a comedy podcast or bringing your pet to work with you if your office allows it. Or maybe a guided meditation app is more your speed, I personally love the 10% Happier app but I know lots of people also like Headspace. You can also try essential oils like lavender or peppermint, both of which have calming effects.
If you, like me, are getting tired of the stress and anxiety you experience before even stepping foot in the office, it’s time to make a change. Small adjustments in your daily routine can lead to an increase in positivity and productivity throughout the day. The visual below has some great tips for relaxing on your commute.
INFOGRAPHIC: Check out this infographic from thezebra.com on how to have a stress-free commute