Take the Stress Out of Commuting

                                             By Helen Godfrey, MA, NCC, BCC, LPC

                                                      www.careercounselortips.com

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The stress of commuting is a serious challenge for many working adults. There are constructive steps you can take to manage that stress before, during, and after your daily commute.


Stress Management Practices to Use Before Your Commute:

  1. Get an early start. Go to bed early and head out before the morning crowds. Prepare whatever you can the night before including putting out your clothes and making a fresh, healthy breakfast that can be prepared quickly in the morning. You'll feel more relaxed if you give yourself plenty of time at the start of the day.
  2. Avoid the evening rush. Schedule activities or make plans after work to avoid rushing home. You can take a yoga class or meet up with friends. By sitting out the evening rush hour, you may get home at the same time and you'll fill your hours with less stressful activities.
  3. Explore flexible work hours. If your employer seems receptive, propose a schedule that would enable you to cover your responsibilities while shortening your commute. You may be able to work at home or rotate your hours.
  4. Consider other transportation options. Look into public transportation and carpooling. If you're not traveling long distances, you may be able to bike or walk to work some days. By taking one more car off the road at rush hour, you're doing a good deed for yourself, your neighbors, and the environment.
  5. Keep yourself fit. Keeping yourself healthy will make you more resilient to any kind of stress. Eat a nutritious diet, get adequate sleep, and exercise regularly.


Stress Management Practices to Use During Your Commute:

  1. Practice positive thinking. Try to respond to aggressive drivers with kindness, instead of anger. If you're stuck in traffic or facing delays, focus on your plans for the rest of the day instead of allowing yourself to become angry and frustrated.
  2. Use relaxation exercises. Find relaxation methods that work for you. You may benefit from taking a few deep breaths. Visualizing mountain lakes or cute puppies can give you an instant uplift. Make it ergonomic. Adjust your car seat to promote good posture. Use a cushion if you need extra back support. On long commutes, change positions frequently to avoid strain and backaches.
  3. Make it ergonomic. Adjust your car seat to promote good posture. Use a cushion if you need extra back support. On long commutes, change positions frequently to avoid strain and backaches
  4. Make it fun. Listen to your favorite music or books on CD. Learn a foreign language with an audio course. If you take the train, you may even be able to use your laptop or smart phone to read the news or watch movies.


Stress Management Practices to Use After Your Commute: 

  1. Clear your mind. When your daily commute is over, switch your mind to the present moment. Leave behind any thoughts of traffic jams and crowded trains so you can enjoy your evening.
  2. Give yourself a warm welcome. Design a ritual you enjoy to put you in a pleasant state of mind. Sit down with a cup of green tea or take your dog for a walk. Play basketball with your kids or watch the news with your spouse.
  3. Shorten your commute. Suburban sprawl has created daily commutes of an hour or more for many adults. In the end, you may want to factor commuting time into your decisions about where to live and work. Even a smaller home may be a wise trade-off if you get to spend more time with your family.

 

Your daily commute can have a big impact on your peace of mind and the amount of time you can devote to the people and pastimes you love. By planning ahead, you can minimize the stress of commuting and enjoy more focus on living the life you desire.

 


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