At the beginning and end of the work day, commuting is a reality that most of us have to do. According to statistics, the average commute time for an American employee equals 50 minutes. For many, the work commute increases not only stress, but it also decreases our happiness level.
Instead of thinking negatively and only hoping things were different; it is helpful to find ways to decrease stress and unexpected obstacles. Read on for tips on how to plan the work commute well and what to focus on.
Commuting to Work
If you are driving a vehicle, there are several external factors that can contribute to high stress levels, such as weather conditions, traffic delays, construction, careless drivers and more. Although these occurrences are not in your control, there are ways to prepare.
First, check the weather as you are getting dressed each morning, whether on the computer, smart phone, radio or television. This way, you will not only be prepared dress-wise, but you will also have a better idea of what to expect on the road regarding weather slow-downs. Next, check to see if your “Plan B” route is ready and available in case of any road blockages, accidents, etc. Some people rely on their GPS technology while others like to compare alternate routes online or by map. Another helpful tip is to plan on waking up 10 or 15 minutes earlier. This small bit of extra time is very helpful particularly if you run into an obstacle on the road.
Regarding what you can do to communicate with others at work, consider asking your boss if you can arrive at the office a little early to beat the morning traffic, and then leave earlier, missing the afternoon jam. Or, propose a plan for a four-day work week so you can decrease commuting time and the cost of gas at least one day per week.
In addition, there are many internal ways to uplift your mood and mind going to work. Think about what makes you feel calm and/or motivated. Maybe it’s jazz music or revving up your morning listening to Zig Ziglar. Whatever moves you to feel at ease or focused as you face the commute each day is what needs to be done.
For me, listening to music such as Ray LaMontagne or Nora Jones works very well. I cannot listen to the radio much, especially while in traffic, due to the erratic disc jockey conversations and advertisements. You know what you enjoy. Be mindful about creating a calm commute each day.
What about in the afternoon going home from work? If there is something you feel passionate about or a hobby you are enjoying, the afternoon commute may be the time to think and plan for activities related to that. For example, when I started acting again, I began to utilize my afternoon commute to practice going through my monologue. My husband—a songwriter and musician at heart—constantly creates songs while driving. If he encounters a particularly great idea and he is afraid of forgetting it, he will pull over to record on his smart phone or type in notes to jog the memory later. Driving home from work is often a time when the creative part of the mind will come alive more easily. Use it to your advantage.