Dealing With Commuter Stress

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It’s called, “Hurry up and wait.” Traffic and commuter stress is enough to drive you loony-tunes! You’ve got an 8 a.m. sales presentation. There’s 15 miles of exhaust belching traffic in front of you, and 14 years to retirement. As you sink your fingernails farther into the steering wheel, you find yourself trapped like a rat.

Every weekday, similar dramas play out in millions of cars on roadways across the nation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American worker spends more than 48 minutes a day getting to and from work. For many, it is as high as three hours. This time spent in the car can be the most stressful and unpleasant part of the day.

Being fed up is no way to start your day, or come home to your family. Take a few minutes to study these tips for minimizing your commuter, mind-imploding stress so that you can get started off on the right foot.


Get An Early Start

The reward is a quiet office. You may have the whole place to yourself for a few minutes while you settle in with a relaxed quiet work environment.

A large portion of commuter stress is generated from racing against the clock. Building time in for unpredictable, yet inevitable inconveniences like traffic jams will allow you to slow down and relax.

Keep Your Car In Good Repair

Break downs are extremely stressful experiences, particularly when they occur during rush hour. The most frustrating repair is a broken serpentine belt on an interstate highway. Without replacement (check your manual) it usually breaks at 80-90,000 miles when traveling over 55 mph. Replace it when due. Keep your car’s oil changed regularly, and follow the maintenance schedule found in the manual to minimize your risk of car failure.

Keep Your Tank At Least Half-Full

You never know when you’ll get stuck in traffic or lost. Having plenty of gas will prevent the fear of running out of gas from adding to your stress levels.

Bring Your Own Entertainment

Pandora, Spotify, your favorite music loaded into your smart phone, or your favorite CDs can be a lifesaver on days when your radio seems to offer mostly noise and annoyance. Caution! “Books on tape” can be more distracting and hazardous. And forget DVD movies, magazines, books, and TV. Participating in these activities is nuts while driving.

Keep A Supply Of Food Handy

Hunger can compound stress. Keep a few snack bars (nothing gooey) in the glove box for the days that you miss breakfast or are forced to work through your lunch break.

Try A Change Of Scenery

Take a different route to work occasionally, even if it takes you a little longer to get there. The change will break the daily monotony of your drive.

Make Yourself Comfortable

Make all necessary seat adjustments before hitting the road. On cold days, take your coat off and leave it in the back seat. Trying to do these things while driving can add to frustration.

Go With The Flow

Don’t try to beat traffic. Rapid lane changes, tailgating, and speeding through yellow lights are acts that threaten your safety and the safety of those around you. Remain calm by accepting the collective pace of the vehicles around you. Most attempts to circumvent traffic buy you very little time anyway.

Get In Touch With Your Spirituality

Use your drive time to find your inner peace through praying, performing breathing exercises, or reciting daily affirmations.

Time spent in traffic is still your own.  Forming good commuting habits now can go a long way toward making your drive feel more like recreation – and less like part of your job.

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