10 tips to stress less on your daily commute

At some point in your life you will likely face the grind of a daily commute. That trek to and from work can be distressfully taxing on your mental and physical health. Instead of letting your drive get the best of you, here are 10 behind-the-wheel tips to make your commute a less stressful experience.

DROP THE CELL PHONE

A study at the University of Utah found that at the end of the day the average commute is longer because of drivers being on their cell phones. Even hands-free cell-phone users drive slower and pass sluggish drivers less frequently. Talking on the phone may make you feel efficient but it increases the minutes it takes to get to your destination.

TAKE THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED

Even if it takes a bit longer, your lungs will thank you. Although the average Los Angeles driver spends about six percent (1.5 hours) of his or her day on the road, that period of time accounts for 33 to 45 percent of total exposure to diesel and ultrafine particles (UFP), according to a study in the journal Atmospheric Environment. On freeways, diesel-fueled trucks are the source of the highest concentrations of harmful pollutants. Planning a route with less traffic can reduce your exposure to these toxins.

ROLL UP THE WINDOW

Keep your windows rolled up and the air circulating. If you have no choice but to take the freeway, keeping your windows closed with the air on may modestly reduce your pollutant exposure.

LISTEN UP

Make your drive more enjoyable with sound. Pass the commute time by listening to your favorite playlist or XM station. Better yet, make your drive educational and listen to language classes on DVD or download free iPod foreign language phrasebooks. 

TAKE A DEEP BREATH

Scent your car with lavender, vanilla, or any other scent that comforts you. You can wax 90’s nostalgia and hang a little evergreen vanilla tree to the rearview mirror or go chic with auto-aroma essential oil diffusers that plug into lighter sockets and adapter outlets.

MIND OVER MATTER

Once you accept your commute as part of your day, you can stop driving yourself crazy and defuse your heart-stressing road rage. If you are consistently running late, leave earlier for work to keep your blood pressure from rising when you get behind a slowpoke. Perception is reality, use your mind to keep you sane.

TRY A CARPOOL

If you don’t mind conversation before your first cup of coffee in the morning, carpool with friends or co-workers. With commuters alternating the driving responsibilties, you cut the time you stress behind the wheel. Visit eRideshare and iCarpool for carpool opportunities in your area.

BE ORGANIZED

Looking for things in random pockets and cupholders while you are driving is dangerous. The more you search, the more you risk getting into an accident (even if the traffic has slowed to a crawl). Keep everything you need within easy reach. Buy a car organizer to hold your coffee cups, spare change, to-do lists or trash.

GET COMFORTABLE

Adjust the driver seat lumbar support to an ideal position that will make your commute most physically comfortable. And, for the ultimate comfort, if your vehicle is not equipped with seat warmers, get a cushioned heated seat cover that plugs into the lighter socket.

FIND YOUR OM

Ever hear of office yoga to relieve stress? Jen Swain’s Yoga In the Car audio program encourages drivers (in bumper to bumper traffic only) to relieve back and neck tension with a few key exercises. She urges people to stop beeping, and start breathing – reducing your commute stress and improving your health.

Rather than wasting your energy worrying on how to get to and from work, these commute makeover ideas will not only help ease stress and health risks, but will also allow you to focus more on the part of your day you are actually paid to do – your job.

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