According to the Office for National Statistics, ‘The effects of commuting on personal well-being were greatest for anxiety and happiness, suggesting that commuting affects day-to-day emotions.’ Commuting is probably one of the biggest stress trigger for me personally. I commute anywhere from 30-50 minutes one way daily depending on traffic in Phoenix. Some days are worse than others, like when it is 110 degrees outside and you are stuck on the highway. I think I have figured out some ways to take away the anxiety and stress to bring some happiness back into that part of my day. Hoepfully these tips can help my fellow commuters.
-Call Family & Friends: If you have family out-of-state or anyone you need to catch up with calling them during your commute could be a great way to check in and see how they are doing. Make sure you check the laws in your state for talking on the phone and driving. Getting a ticket would not make your commute better. See what your state law on texting and driving is here.
-Make a playlist of songs: Pick music that makes you happy, or soothes you. I personally love to jam out to dance music and if traffic is exceptionally bad I will bust out some classical or Enya to calm me down. See what some say are the best and worst songs to listen to while driving.
-Pick comedian you love: I recently downloaded all of my favorite comedians and I play their sets while driving home. I am laughing the entire drive and I barely notice the time it takes me to get home.
-Keep smart snacks on deck: Nothing makes a long commute worse than being tired and hungry. I keep my car stocked with almonds and occasionally I will have a banana to hold off my dinner hunger. I also like to fill up my water bottle before I leave so I am hydrated.
-Map out optional routes: Find at least five ways to get home so that you always feel you have an option. Living in Phoenix my main route is on the I-10 where there is always and accident or something that can potentially delay me getting home on time. I always have some back up routes for those days.
-Know your triggers and let them go: Everyone has pet peeves about driving. I personally get very frustrated when someone causes traffic by going slow when there is clearly plenty of space for them to speed up. My list of annoyances goes on to include people who don’t use their blinker, people who don’t let you over when the lane is merging, people talking on their phone who go slow because their conversation is slowing them down, people who stop and stare at traffic stops, the person who zooms in and out of traffic almost causing an accident and so on. Since I know my triggers I have to tell myself to not let those things get under my skin. Ultimately I can’t change them from happening and all I can do is drive safe and get myself home in one piece. This is a daily struggle but it does get better the more you focus on fixing it.
-Scent your car: Find soothing scents and fill your car with those smells. I love when my car is clean and smells like cotton and lavender. I find that I am more patient and calm when my car is clean.
-Commute with friends: If you work with someone who lives near you save gas and ride to work together. You can take turns and you can go in the HOV lane which is usually much faster.
-Decompress: Have a plan of how you are going to decompress all of that stress from driving once you get home or before you leave. Working out, going for a walk or having a glass of wine could be the perfect way to unwind for the day.
Hopefully some of these tips will be helpful for those of you who have to commute. Happy driving!