reduce commuting stress

For many people, the morning commute to work represents the absolute worst part of the day. The road is packed with cars forced to move slowly driven by drivers who want to drive quickly enough to hide from the boss the fact that they hit the snooze button too many times. Throw in a fender bender or a school zone or two and it’s easy to see why everyone is on edge.

It is understandable how rush-hour can elevate a driver’s stress, it’s important to not let drivetime anxiety get to you. Not only will it affect your mood and productivity once you finally get to the office, it also greatly increases your chances of being in an accident on the way there. Here are some tips on how to make it to work safely and sanely.

Jam Out

You may have heard it said that “music has charms to soothe the savage beast.” Whether or not you are familiar with this misquote (the actual line ends with “savage breast”), the fact remains that almost everyone has a song that can put them in a better mood.

Since morning drivetime radio with its endless ads and upbeat trying-desperately-to-be-funny banter can’t be relied upon to provide that magic bullet song, make a playlist that ensures that you’ll hear it at least once on the way to work. When the tune comes out, let yourself go. Sing along loudly and do a little seat dancing if you can. No one’s looking and, if they are, they’re not judging they’re jealous of your ability to make the best of a bad situation.

Don’t Worry about the “Other Guy”

If you have spent any time on the road at all, chances are you’ve been witness to some pretty bad driving. Stressing over what every other driver is doing or might do isn’t going to add any enjoyment to your trip. Instead of focusing your attention on all the things that drivers around you are doing wrong, focus on making sure the guy in your car is doing right. Dwell on happy thoughts like how great it would be if you were to see the guy who cut you off and sped away getting a ticket a little further down the road.

Play Nicely with Others

It’s hard to be a considerate driver when all the others around you are inconsiderate jerks, but do your best to be one, anyway. You may never know the long-term effects of paying a little generosity forward. Are you really going to be that much later if you let that guy cut in front of you? Doing so may improve their commute and you’ll probably feel good about doing it, neither of which can be a bad thing, right?

Don’t Forget to Breathe

A stressful event, like being cut off or getting honked at, can result in a person’s breathing becoming shallower. It’s not intentional, it’s part of that “fight or flight” wiring that we all have. If you feel yourself becoming tense, take a moment to focus on your breathing. A few slow, deep intentional brats can slow your heart rate, increased the flow of oxygen to your brain and elevate your mood. Driving with a clenched jaw and a white-knuckled grip of the steering wheel is it safe for you or anyone else you are sharing the road with.

Following these tips certainly won’t make your commute any shorter but it should make it more bearable. We were going to say pleasant but, at the end of your commute, you’re still going to be at work and not the beach, so there’s that.