How to beat the stress of the morning commute – Birds on the Blog

How to beat the stress of the morning commute

Aaah, the morning drive to work.  For many people this can be the most stressful part of the day, leaving the house early so that you can sit in traffic for half an hour.  Time that could be spend doing something far more productive…like sleeping!  

Road rage is a big problem in our stressed out, overloaded with too many cars world.  A Google search for road rage brought two news items about road rage fatalities posted in different places in America in the last 24 hours.  In Detroit 2 people died in a 5 car crash, and a man was shot dead in Kansas and his pregnant girlfriend injured.  It happens in the UK as well, a cyclist was injured in a road rage incident in Rochester at the end of May.

  • Dealing with other people’s impatience and bad driving.
  • Watching the clock counting the minutes down until you are late for work.
  • Getting caught by EVERY red light (especially if you are running late already.
  • The fact that you have to endure this every day, and it may be for a job you don’t even enjoy.
  • The traffic takes time that you could be spending doing things, or being with people, that you love instead.

It all adds up and can lead to high stress.

While violence is thankfully a rare consequence of road rage, the anger, resentment, frustration and stress is a very real phenomenon that affects many people on a daily basis.  

It is a form of stress that is, I think, compounded by the fact that when we are in our cars, it is because we want to get somewhere, so there is a sense of urgency about the travel, and because we are stuck in a small metal box and can’t get away from the sources of the stress

It has been a long time since I did this regularly, but I remember the frustration well.  

One particularly memorably bad day my stress level got so bad that I had to choose between returning to smoking after 6 months of quitting or driving forcefully into the car in front of me in fury.  Fortunately I opted for the former, but I understand the levels of rage that can escalate in a car.

The stress that accumulates in the morning commute can stay with you for the rest of the day and can affect working relationships, effectiveness, concentration and energy levels to name but a few

Here are some strategies you can employ next time you are feeling that rage rise in you, or, if you know you are prone to it, before you even get to the traffic bottle necks.

Breathe

Gosh, what a surprise, I am telling you to breathe!  If you have read any of my writing on stress, you will have probably seen this coming!

But there is a reason I constantly include breathing in my posts about stress.  Good deep breathing is the best stress reliever there is.  Whenever you are feeling anxious or stressed, a few deep, slow, rhythmic breaths will calm and soothe your mind and your nervous system and leave you feeling far more peaceful.

Make the stops a cue to take a few deep breaths, and you will soon find that they cause you much less stress.

Listen to music

Maybe not thrash metal or angry rapping, but music can certainly help to ease the stress.  

Listening to your favourite music, or to something soothing and calming like classical music can really help to calm the mind.  I like to dance and sing in my seat, but I have a fairly high threshold for looking daft, you may prefer not to do that, but music will help.

Turn off the radio

If you tend to listen to the national radio, such as radio 4, on your journey to work, can I suggest you opt for something else?  Radio stations interrupt the playing of music with news, political debate, chat shows, and all sorts of other things that can have you shouting at the radio in fury.

Learn

Use the time in your car to expand your mind instead of tying it in knots of frustration.  Download podcasts or audiobooks to your phone and play them as you are driving.  You never know, you might gain the skills you need to get a different job, or start to work from home, or change your life in some other way doing this!

Laugh

It isn’t really possible to feel angry when you are laughing, so why not get an audio of something that makes you laugh and listen to that on your journey?  Maybe not something so funny you lose the ability to concentrate on your driving, but having something that puts a smile on your face will make the journey much more fun.

Gratitude

As you are driving, instead of focusing on the things that are going wrong on the journey, think about all the things that are going well in your life in general.  Did you have a good breakfast before you left?  Do you particularly like the shoes you are wearing?  Give thanks for the things that the job gives you.  Remember that this journey is just one small part of the day, focusing on the good things will stop this part of the day ruining the rest of it.

Share the journey

A stressful situation is always easier when you can share it with someone else?  Can you carshare with someone you work with so that you can split the driving and fuel costs, and have someone to talk to when you are in traffic?

8 ways beat stress women ebook coverThese are just a few suggestions from someone who hasn’t done the morning commute for some time.  I am sure there are other suggestions you can make, I would love to hear them, please let me know in the comments how you keep road rage at bay.

Get my free guide to 8 Ways to Beat Stress for Busy Women and access the library of free stress busting resources in the Relaxation Repository, here 

About the Author Esther Nagle

Esther Nagle helps busy women who barely have the time to breathe to find space and calm in their busy days, so that they can be happier, healthier and find more joy in life. Esther is the author of Bent Back into Shape, Beating Addiction Through Yoga, an inspiring public speaker, and impassioned teacher. She is passionate about the power of the breath to heal and calm body and mind, and loves nothing more than seeing the changes in people when they learn to breathe well. Esther is mum to three lovely boys and one lovely girl dog, an ardent music fan and lover of long walks in the hills and by the sea.

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