Late Starts, Break Lights and Bad Moods: Ways to Stop Dreading Your Daily Trip to Work.
(ThyBlackMan.com) In 2009 the US Census Bureau published a survey of commuting patterns. It showed that the average work commute is 25 minutes—that means that every day the nation’s 132 million commuters are spending the equivalent of over 6 years commuting. It’s a frustrating way to spend time, and commuting is widely regarded as one of the most stressful of the day’s activities. There must be a way to make it better.
Do You Have to Drive?
The same survey said that 86% of commuters travel by car, truck, or van, while only 5% take public transport, 3% walk and 0.6% cycle. So, if you drive to work, the first question you need to ask yourself is: Do I have to? Cycling or walking obviously depend on how far from work you live, and the convenience and safety of the routes available, but if you can do so, the health benefits are obvious—your commute becomes part of your daily workout.
Taking public transport has different advantages. You can use the time more productively, consciously performing static exercises, and preparing yourself mentally for work or home by awareness or relaxation activities. You can read. You can interact with fellow travelers. You can even snooze if that helps.
Do You Have to Drive Alone?
The Census Bureau survey showed that of the people who commuted by car to work, over 88% traveled alone. Not only does sharing the journey have a beneficial effect on the environment, it also has a beneficial effect on the commuters. Conversation can make the time pass quicker, the frustrations of traffic can be expressed and shared, and simply being in the presence of another person helps reduce stress. Of course, you have to find the right other person for this to be true!
Having someone with you reduces the anxiety about what happens in the event of an accident. Accidents are common on the commute run, and create a bewildering situation at a time when you are not best equipped to deal with it. Attorney Keith Magness has a great resource for Louisiana car accident injury questions.
If you have no choice but to drive to work alone, you can make the best of it by looking for ways to deal with physical and mental stress.
The driving position is not a natural one to sustain for long periods. To arrive at work with a body out of balance is not a great way to start the day, and to arrive home with aching joints interferes with your family life and relaxation time.
- Do some stretches before you get behind the wheel. Move your body through its full range of motions, especially your shoulders and hips.
- Be sure that your seat is properly adjusted. If you are careful about having the right posture at your desk, then look to achieve the same posture at the wheel. Aim to be sitting upright with your head comfortably balanced on your neck and your lower back supported.
- As you drive take time to concentrate on your body. You can practice breathing exercises, or progressively tense and relax the muscle groups of your body, starting with your feet and continuing right up to your face.
Getting your body right will have a great effect on your mental relaxation, and you can add extra mind techniques to enable you to arrive at work ready to go, and to arrive home in a suitable mood to enjoy the evening.
- It’s not always possible, but if you can, turn off work stimuli while you are driving. Constant reminders that you have messages to answer or tasks to finish will add to the stress of your commute.
- Choose your entertainment carefully. There is some evidence that listening to highly stimulating music can increase the tendency to aggression behind the wheel, whereas soothing music can help you relax.
- Change your clothes (or at least your shoes) before you begin the drive home. It subliminally suggests to your brain that you are no longer in work mode.
- Listen to interesting podcasts or try to learn something new. Especially if you tend to find yourself in long gridlocks, the sense that you are using the time usefully can ease the frustration.
Making It Count
The daily commute is, like it or not, an inescapable part of life for the vast majority of working people across the world. If you cannot change the way you travel to work, aim to change the way it affects the rest of your day.
Jonathan Townsend has been doing the daily commute for close on 20 years. He likes to create a stress-free environment and to use the time wisely as he listens to podcasts and ebooks. Read his tips online to create a better commute for yourself!
Staff Writer; Brian Lee