Whether you drive or take public transit, daily commutes to work or school can be stressful, and for some of us, it might make or break our day before it’s even started! As transportation improves and the population spreads away from urban areas, our commutes have gotten longer so shouldn’t we try to make them a little more enjoyable? 

How does your commute affect you? 

The average daily commute is 25 minutes each way, and the trend is only showing signs of increasing. Vehicles are becoming more efficient and comfortable, and public transportation is improving to the point where commuters are more willing to spend more time traveling to and from work than before. 

However, studies have shown that our commutes could be having adverse effects on our health. Higher stress levels have been shown to increase blood pressure, and according to Everyday Health, sitting in traffic and other emotional burdens from commuting is a major stressor that has been connected to cardiac strain in adults. 

Between getting stuck in traffic or cramped public transport, terrible weather, and train or bus delays, it’s understandable that commuting is such a big stressor for so many. However, there are many ways we can improve our commute and make it more enjoyable overall.  

Ways to Make Your Commute More Enjoyable

1. Create a Driving Playlist 

If you prefer music to podcasts, a driving playlist for your commute is a great way to help get you into the right mood for the day. You can take some time to curate the perfect playlist with upbeat or relaxing songs that make you happy and put you in a good mood for work or school.  

Additionally, your commute is the perfect opportunity to discover new music or catch up on all those new songs you’ve been meaning to try. Create a playlist or choose one from your favorite streaming service. Some streaming platforms even create playlists specifically to help you relax or put you in a good mood. Explore your favorite streaming platform to find your perfect driving music.  

2. Leave Earlier 

It seems obvious but leaving a little earlier can greatly improve your commute. Between stressing about arriving on time and traffic congestion while you travel, give yourself some extra time to be leisurely while you commute and watch your mood improve!   

Leaving earlier doesn’t just apply to your morning commute either! If you find you’re always rushing to get home at the end of the day because you stayed late at work, try making a point to leave on time to make the drive home a little less stressful.  

3. Prep Essentials the Night Before 

We all know how hectic the mornings can be, especially when you need to get the kids ready too! One easy way to reduce morning chaos is to prep as much as you can the night before.  

  • Pack lunches 
  • Prep the coffee maker 
  • Pack your bags 
  • Lay out clothes 

Anything you can get ready the night before is something you don’t need to spend time doing in the morning. It really helps to kick the day off on the right foot and lets you actually enjoy your morning! 

4. Change Up Your Route 

It is easy to get stuck in a rut with our morning routine, and it can make your commute feel like just one more boring step in the day. A good way to change it up and make your day a little more interesting is to try changing the route you take on your commute.  

Taking different paths to work or school can help you explore the area a little more, or simply find a route that you like taking more! Sometimes you may find a route that helps you avoid that point in your normal drive that is always backed up and congested with traffic. 

This can also extend to the way you get to work or school. If you can, try carpooling or taking public transportation instead of driving yourself. Studies show that sharing a ride with your co-workers or taking public transit decreases overall emissions and can help save commuters money.   

5. Check Traffic 

Some of you may already have a habit of checking the traffic before you head out the door, but it can be a great way to improve your commute and reduce your travel-related stress. Having an idea of what the traffic congestion on your route is like will help you avoid a surprise traffic jam or more frequent stop-and-go traffic that sucks down your car’s gas and makes your commute more stressful. 

There are many different apps you can use to check the traffic for your commute, or you can follow your city’s transit social media feeds for regular updates on collisions or backups.  

6. Stretch 

Stretching is an easy thing you can do in the car, or on the bus or train to help you relax and reduce the tension that can build up and make you feel stiff all day.  

If you drive yourself, take a few seconds at a stoplight to stretch your neck and back. Gently tilt your head to one side, relaxing the muscles on the opposite side of your neck for the duration of a red light. When you get stopped at the next light, do the same on the other side. Additionally, keep your hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel and slowly twist your shoulders to stretch your back. Breathe deeply and slowly to relax your back and abdomen muscles for a few seconds, then turn your shoulders the other way. 

7. Aromatherapy to Reduce Stress 

You wouldn’t have thought that scents can have such a big impact on our mood, but they can! By using a little aromatherapy in your car to reduce stress, you can make your commute more enjoyable and boost your mood for the day. 

One of the most popular scents for stress reduction is lavender. Studies point to lavender’s ability to balance our nervous system, reduce anxiety, and even improve focus. Additionally, you can use lemon, peppermint, or rosemary fragrances to help you be more alert while still providing an enjoyable scent. 

8. Leave the Phone Alone! 

It should go without saying but leave your phone alone while you drive! Whether you’re talking on the phone, texting, or switching what you’re listening to, looking at your phone while driving seriously reduces your reaction time and can increase your risk of getting into a collision. 

Using your phone while you drive is a huge distraction. At best, it can increase the number of times you make hard starts or stops, which wears down your brakes and decreases your gas mileage. At worst, it significantly increases your risk of getting into a collision. It’s better to not take the risk at all and keep the phone put away. 

9. Try Not to Commute at All 

Finally, one of the best ways to improve your commute is to not commute at all! If you have the option, you can ask to work from home part or full-time, so you don’t have to drive or deal with the stress of a daily commute. 

Conversely, if you’re able to walk or bike to work, that’s a great option too! Walking or biking is commonly referred to as active commuting and can help improve your health while eliminating some of the stress of driving or taking public transportation. 

Final Thoughts 

The truth is, most of us spend a solid chunk of our lives commuting, so we should try to enjoy it when we can. We understand that all of these tips won’t work for everyone, but the goal is to give you a starting point to help you romanticize your commute a little more and enjoy it! 

It’s important to find what works for you and your unique commuting experience. Play around with different things you can do to improve your commute, and, above all, drive safely! 

Disclaimer: 

This article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If you are experiencing anxiety or other mental health symptoms, you should speak to a medical professional.

Whether you drive or take public transit, daily commutes to work or school can be stressful, and for some of us, it might make or break our day before it’s even started! As transportation improves and the population spreads away from urban areas, our commutes have gotten longer so shouldn’t we try to make them a little more enjoyable? 

The Effect of Commuting

The average daily commute is 25 minutes each way, and the trend is only showing signs of increasing. Vehicles are becoming more efficient and comfortable, and public transportation is improving to the point where commuters are more willing to spend more time traveling to and from work than before. 

However, studies have shown that our commutes could be having adverse effects on our health. Higher stress levels have been shown to increase blood pressure, and according to Everyday Health, sitting in traffic and other emotional burdens from commuting is a major stressor that has been connected to cardiac strain in adults. 

Between getting stuck in traffic or cramped public transport, terrible weather, and train or bus delays, it’s understandable that commuting is such a big stressor for so many. However, there are many ways we can improve our commute and make it more enjoyable overall.  

Ways to Make Your Commute More Enjoyable

1. Create a Driving Playlist 

If you prefer music to podcasts, a driving playlist for your commute is a great way to help get you into the right mood for the day. You can take some time to curate the perfect playlist with upbeat or relaxing songs that make you happy and put you in a good mood for work or school.  

Additionally, your commute is the perfect opportunity to discover new music or catch up on all those new songs you’ve been meaning to try. Create a playlist or choose one from your favorite streaming service. Some streaming platforms even create playlists specifically to help you relax or put you in a good mood. Explore your favorite streaming platform to find your perfect driving music.  

2. Leave Earlier 

It seems obvious but leaving a little earlier can greatly improve your commute. Between stressing about arriving on time and traffic congestion while you travel, give yourself some extra time to be leisurely while you commute and watch your mood improve!   

Leaving earlier doesn’t just apply to your morning commute either! If you find you’re always rushing to get home at the end of the day because you stayed late at work, try making a point to leave on time to make the drive home a little less stressful.  

3. Prep Essentials the Night Before 

We all know how hectic the mornings can be, especially when you need to get the kids ready too! One easy way to reduce morning chaos is to prep as much as you can the night before.  

  • Pack lunches 
  • Prep the coffee maker 
  • Pack your bags 
  • Lay out clothes 

Anything you can get ready the night before is something you don’t need to spend time doing in the morning. It really helps to kick the day off on the right foot and lets you actually enjoy your morning! 

4. Change Up Your Route 

It is easy to get stuck in a rut with our morning routine, and it can make your commute feel like just one more boring step in the day. A good way to change it up and make your day a little more interesting is to try changing the route you take on your commute.  

Taking different paths to work or school can help you explore the area a little more, or simply find a route that you like taking more! Sometimes you may find a route that helps you avoid that point in your normal drive that is always backed up and congested with traffic. 

This can also extend to the way you get to work or school. If you can, try carpooling or taking public transportation instead of driving yourself. Studies show that sharing a ride with your co-workers or taking public transit decreases overall emissions and can help save commuters money.   

5. Check Traffic 

Some of you may already have a habit of checking the traffic before you head out the door, but it can be a great way to improve your commute and reduce your travel-related stress. Having an idea of what the traffic congestion on your route is like will help you avoid a surprise traffic jam or more frequent stop-and-go traffic that sucks down your car’s gas and makes your commute more stressful. 

There are many different apps you can use to check the traffic for your commute, or you can follow your city’s transit social media feeds for regular updates on collisions or backups.  

6. Stretch 

Stretching is an easy thing you can do in the car, or on the bus or train to help you relax and reduce the tension that can build up and make you feel stiff all day.  

If you drive yourself, take a few seconds at a stoplight to stretch your neck and back. Gently tilt your head to one side, relaxing the muscles on the opposite side of your neck for the duration of a red light. When you get stopped at the next light, do the same on the other side. Additionally, keep your hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel and slowly twist your shoulders to stretch your back. Breathe deeply and slowly to relax your back and abdomen muscles for a few seconds, then turn your shoulders the other way. 

7. Aromatherapy to Reduce Stress 

You wouldn’t have thought that scents can have such a big impact on our mood, but they can! By using a little aromatherapy in your car to reduce stress, you can make your commute more enjoyable and boost your mood for the day. 

One of the most popular scents for stress reduction is lavender. Studies point to lavender’s ability to balance our nervous system, reduce anxiety, and even improve focus. Additionally, you can use lemon, peppermint, or rosemary fragrances to help you be more alert while still providing an enjoyable scent. 

8. Leave the Phone Alone! 

It should go without saying but leave your phone alone while you drive! Whether you’re talking on the phone, texting, or switching what you’re listening to, looking at your phone while driving seriously reduces your reaction time and can increase your risk of getting into a collision. 

Using your phone while you drive is a huge distraction. At best, it can increase the number of times you make hard starts or stops, which wears down your brakes and decreases your gas mileage. At worst, it significantly increases your risk of getting into a collision. It’s better to not take the risk at all and keep the phone put away. 

9. Try Not to Commute at All 

Finally, one of the best ways to improve your commute is to not commute at all! If you have the option, you can ask to work from home part or full-time, so you don’t have to drive or deal with the stress of a daily commute. 

Conversely, if you’re able to walk or bike to work, that’s a great option too! Walking or biking is commonly referred to as active commuting and can help improve your health while eliminating some of the stress of driving or taking public transportation. 

Final Thoughts 

The truth is, most of us spend a solid chunk of our lives commuting, so we should try to enjoy it when we can. We understand that all of these tips won’t work for everyone, but the goal is to give you a starting point to help you romanticize your commute a little more and enjoy it! 

It’s important to find what works for you and your unique commuting experience. Play around with different things you can do to improve your commute, and, above all, drive safely! 

Disclaimer: 

This article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If you are experiencing anxiety or other mental health symptoms, you should speak to a medical professional.

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