5 Hacks to Reduce Commuter Stress
The daily commute to and from work can impact your stress levels. It's the only time when you are not doing anything productive, but it still takes up so much of your time and energy. According to a study out of the University of Montreal, the time you take to commute to and from work highly affects your mental and physical wellbeing. If your commute takes more than 20 minutes, chances are high you will eventually suffer burnout. Make the journey a bit easier with these five tips to reduce commuters stress.
1. Music – Music can be a powerful tool for relieving stress as it holds a unique link to our emotions. Research has shown that music can help cope with stress, anxiety, and keep you calm throughout the day, making it a great aid to meditation. Certain genres of music such as classical can help to slow down the pulse and heart rate, lower blood pressure, and decrease the levels of stress hormones. Find the right music that helps relax your mind. A number of music streaming apps have relaxing music playlists available for you or make your own to listen to on the go.
2. Audiobooks – Audiobooks are a great way to relieve stress. Pursuing such a leisure time activity during your commute will make it feel less like you are wasting time commuting. As kids, most of us were read stories to from our parents during bedtime to help soothe our minds to rest. That is the power of audiobooks - they open an entire world of imagination out to the listeners and helps boost their mood. Listening to someone else read aloud is almost therapeutic, and it can take away all your negative thoughts. After all, books have always had that magic on all of us.
3. Unplug – Make your commute your “me time”. Rather than focusing on the heavy traffic use the time to think positively. Reflect on yourself, your feelings, motivations, and gratitude. Think about the important things you don’t usually devote time to – your next vacation, life goals– other things that matter to you. Behind the wheel, you can disconnect from your phone, utilize the time to practice mindfulness.
4. Avoid HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) - A good nights sleep, balanced diet, and exercise are proven to lessen anxiety. Sleep helps your body regain the energy it needs to get through the day, so make sure you're getting good rest through the night. Before you head out the door make sure to add water, healthy snacks, and a bar of dark chocolate into your work bag. Researchers found that dark chocolate helps to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the “fight-or-flight” hormones known as catecholamines in highly stressed people.
5. Switch-Up the Routine - As much as most of us find driving most convenient for the daily commute, it can be an unpleasant task first thing in the morning. Try switching-up your travel routine. Change your work schedule -instead of the 9-5 try a 10-6 schedule to avoid heavy traffic. Also, check if your office allows you to work from home on some days.
Other options are you could carpool with friends, or opt for public transport on some days. Needless to say, if you carpool with your friends, the ride automatically becomes a lot more fun and less boring. Not to mention, you are also contributing to a greener planet. Another extremely fun way to commute is to cycle your way to work. Cycling is one of the best ways to get your daily workout early in the day. It will not only make you physically fit, but also contribute to your emotional and mental well-being. The International Journal of Workplace Health Management also found that, for the first 45 minutes of work, employees who cycle in had less stress and were more energetic than those who traveled by car.
More important than any of the points mentioned above, once you leave the office, leave work and all that’s attached back there too. Separate your work and home life, don’t worry about what happened today at work. What happened already happened don’t dwell on the past instead. Stress itself can be an ailment too, and it affects all of us. Try these small hacks, some minor changes in your daily routine can make you less stressed and a happier person.
“Set peace of mind as your highest goal, and organize your life around it.” -Brian Tracy