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Calm Your Daily Commute

Most people have a very stressful experience commuting to work every day. They either battle for a seat (if they’re lucky) on a crowded train or sit in stop-and-go traffic for what seems like an eternity. Far from fun, commuting can be a major stressor. Following are some tips to help you reduce the stress of coming from and going to work:

  • Practice some “auto” relaxation. Try this simple technique while you’re caught in traffic or even while stopped for a red light: Using both hands, squeeze the steering wheel with a medium-tight grip.

    At the same time, tense the muscles in your arms and shoulders, scrunching up your shoulders as if you’re trying to have them touch your ears. Hold that tension for about three or four seconds. Then release all of that tension, letting go of any muscle tightness anywhere in your body. Let this feeling of relaxation spread slowly throughout your entire body. Wait a few minutes and do it again.

  • Beat the crowd. Often, leaving a little earlier or a little later can make a big difference in the quality of your commute. You may get a seat, you may find that the traffic is less congested, and you may find that what was horrific yesterday becomes a lot more endurable.

  • Amuse yourself. Commuting can seem like a joyless endeavor. You can, however, make your time in your car (or on the subway, bus, or train) productive, entertaining, or at least pleasant.

    A favorite pastime when stuck in traffic or sitting on the subway might be daydreaming. Relish the opportunity to mentally veg and let your mind wander. Of course, you can also choose from other, more socially redeeming diversions.

    Have some interesting reading material in your pocket or purse whenever you go out. It can be an amusing little paperback, your e-reader, or an article you’ve cut out or downloaded but haven’t yet found the time to read.

    You can also turn to your digital device for solace. These days the selection of music, video, audio books, and podcasts is incredibly wide. When you're not daydreaming, for example, you could be plugged into your smartphone learning Spanish. You might find these found moments just perfect for a short lesson.

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