4 Tips for Limiting Stress During a Long Daily Commute

African-American woman smiling during her rush hour daily commute

For many people, the most stressful and emotionally draining part of the workday is not work itself. Instead, it’s the cumulative time they spend battling their way through traffic or riding on city buses and commuter trains while packed shoulder-to-shoulder with others. Surprisingly, not only are these trips mentally taxing, but they can also have a significant impact on your physical health. Learning how to effectively mitigate the health risks of a long daily commute is now a critical part of maintaining an acceptably high quality of life. The four tips that follow will show you how.

1. Catch the Train and Get Creative

Riding the train or taking the bus to work will help you avoid the stress and frustration of driving through stop-and-go traffic, and dealing with frantic, frustrated, or all-out inconsiderate motorists. Best of all, you won’t have to keep your hands on the steering wheel or your eyes on the road. You can use your early-morning and evening commute to read a good book, learn how to knit or crochet, or simply meditate and practice mindfulness. Your time spent getting to and from work won’t be wasted. Instead, you’ll be actively improving yourself and expanding your knowledge base.

2. Give Yourself Several In-Car Ways to Stay Entertained

Having ways to while away the minutes or hours that you spend in bumper-to-bumper traffic is a creative dance between keeping yourself entertained and avoiding distracted driving. Use in-vehicle technologies such as mobile phone integration to make hands-free phone calls. This is a great time to ask your kids or spouse how their days are going or to catch up with your friends, parents, or adult siblings. You can also listen to audiobooks, or spend your commute moving through your favorite playlist of relaxing or uplifting tunes.

3. Time Your Commute Smartly

Sometimes delaying a daily commute can significantly shorten its duration. If you hop on the freeway or train at the same time as everyone else, you may be subjecting yourself to unnecessary frustration. Instead, consider hitting a local gym after quitting time to work out your stress on the treadmill. By the time your evening workout session is done, the buses will be emptier and the roads will be less crowded. Sometimes, heading to work just a half-hour earlier can make all the difference as well. If leaving home before the streets are congested proves far less stressful, consider bringing your breakfast to work, putting in time at the gym before your shift starts, or taking a relaxing early-morning walk before heading to your desk.

4. Don’t Move From Stress to Stress

One of the worst things about having a stressful daily commute is the fact that you’ve likely got pressing responsibilities waiting for you the moment you walk in the door. Even before your shoes are off and you’ve had a chance to unwind, you may be worried about cooking dinner, helping small children with their homework, or coming to the aid of teenagers with social angst. Make a point of claiming 15 minutes for yourself from the minute you arrive. This necessary period of de-stressing will make you more focused and responsive when engaging with others. Take a hot shower and change into comfortable clothes. Light a therapeutic candle and soothe yourself into a calm and relaxed state with aromatherapy. 

What Are the Health Risks of a Long Daily Commute?

Super-commuters who ride on the freeway breathe in massive amounts of exhaust and other fumes. People who spend long stretches of time commuting each day are more likely to lead sedentary lifestyles, and to grab fast food on their way home rather than cooking. Driving and riding passenger buses and trains takes a daily toll. Fortunately, you can limit this toll by planning your commute smartly, and by proactively de-stressing with the tips above. For additional help in maintaining mood balance, peace of mind, and an optimally high quality of life, follow the Avidity Medical Design Blog, take a course offered by Avidity Medical Design Academy, or purchase candles and soaps offered by Avidity Medical Scentations.

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