5 Ways to Reduce Stress while Commuting

Commuting is frustrating, but you can make the time on the road more pleasant, relaxing and productive with just a few small changes.  

Do you feel stuck in a rut at work? Do you notice yourself going to work while the days begin to blend into each other? Is your commute filled with anxiety, frustration, dread and maybe even texting (please don’t)? If you are one of the millions of people feeling overwhelmed by their daily routine, to-do lists and work overload, here are 5 strategies to help you regain some control and decrease stress and anxiety, all by changing the way you approach your commute.

1. Listen to a podcast or audio book

Instead of getting into your car and right away focusing on your upcoming tasks, create a bit of relaxation, especially if you have to fight traffic. Make the commute work for you. Pick a book or podcast that’s inspiring, that will teach you something new, that will make you look at life from a different angle. When you feel inspired, it becomes much easier to step through the doors and face your to-do list. But don’t just stop there! On your way home, do the same, but maybe listen to something that will put you in the mood to relax and connect, so that by the time you arrive, you are fully ready to be with your tribe.

2. Drive in silence to make space for creativity

If you don’t like podcasts, there’s another option: silence. It makes way for creativity in ways that nothing else can. The more we foster creativity in your lives, the more we cultivate flexibility for those challenging moments. If right away you hear your internal critic say “but I’m not creative”, tell them to zip it for a moment. Creativity means allowing ourselves to be who we are instead of who we think we should be. When we create silence, we allow our deeper voice to arise. Of course that inner critic will require ongoing management, but trust me, it’s worth it. The more you learn to pay attention to your true inner voice, the more you will move toward what makes you feel confident and fulfilled in life. Remember, in this case, silence is golden – it allows us to learn to listen inward.

3. Call a supportive friend for added focus

Notice how I made sure to add the word “supportive” in here? If you’re feeling stressed already, don’t add to it by talking to someone that might make you feel small in any way. Find an accountability friend that will push you to keep working toward your dreams, that will support you through challenges and for whom you can do the exact same. Sounding out your goals is therapeutic and brings enormous focus to your career and home life. These conversations can obviously happen at the beginning or end of your workday. Just try and see what works best. You’ll both be able to feel heard, supported and will have more focus and confidence as you move through your week!

4. Release the things you want to say but can’t

Whether we make the choice not to or we don’t have the courage to say something out loud (yet), at times we need to say something, but cannot. When that happens we often feel that proverbial lump in our throat. In those moments, you have two options: 1) you can ignore it, although I don’t recommend it or 2) you can choose to move through it. The car is truly the best way to do this, as long as you’re on your own. In theory this is a very easy, simple process, but as you’ll see if you try, it takes a lot of courage to acknowledge things unsaid. Sit in your car, roll the windows up and say out loud what you needed to say. Maybe say it a few times. Maybe growl or yell, but either way, let it out and feel the release.

5. Stop at a park for 5-10 minutes for a quick reset and fresh air

This may add a few minutes to your day, but think about it like this: on your way to work, most likely you haven’t had a breather yet to fully set yourself up for the day. Simply sitting and breathing in the fresh air will help calm your nervous system. You may already be thinking about work, but that little bit of space will provide you with time to put your thoughts in order. On your way home, stopping will give you that much needed space before you enter your home environment. If you’ve ever come home and your loved ones wanted to talk to you but you weren’t ready, this one is for you! By giving yourself just a few minutes, you make the choice to regain your center before re-connecting with those you love.

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