At some point during your daily commute, you have likely experienced all five stages of grief. And while traffic is inevitable, it’s important to remember that you’re not in this alone.
Your morning commute doesn’t have to be a never-ending sequence of white-knuckling your steering wheel or squeezing yourself onto a subway car full of human cattle. Here are a few ways to make your commute not only more bearable, but even enjoyable, whether you’re driving, biking, carpooling, or taking the train.
Drive Your Way to a Better You
Want to catch up on your reading while driving to work without causing a 20-car pileup? Podcasts and audiobooks make the morning and evening commute worth living. Audible has over 425,000 books for you to choose from—you could be driving in your car every second for the rest of your life, and you would never run out of books to listen to.
Your vessel isn’t just a 4-wheel chariot, it’s also a virtual classroom. Always wanted to learn another language, but never had the time? There are thousands of books that will help you get a leg up on all kinds of languages, whether you’re just starting out, or you want a refresher course for the French you took in high school.
Practice Self-Care on the Subway
One of the best things about taking the train to work is that you can let yourself go—just promise that you won’t take your shoes off.
Sure, if you have the elbow room, you could open your laptop and get some work done by catching up on email, but it’s also an excellent time to de-clutter your mind. Step up your self-care regimen by unplugging your brain and starting a meditation practice.
Geared for your mind and body, there are audio-guided fitness programs for meditation and working out. And while it might seem contradictory, there’s no better place for a guided meditation than a crowded commuter train—it’s the perfect head trip for winding down after a long day.
Carpool and Meet New People
What if there was a way to meet new people while driving to work AND accessing the glory that is the carpool lane? Sure, Waze can make your commute a little smoother by crowdsourcing your traffic trouble spots in real time, but you can also use their carpool app to find coworkers or other passengers to share a ride with.
Not only are you eliminating congestion from the highway, but you’re also likely getting to work faster while connecting with your fellow travelers. Plus, by taking other cars off the road, you’re producing less carbon and pollution, all while saving money on gas and tolls.
With your new rideshare pals in tow, you could create your own version of Cash Cab where the winner doesn’t have to contribute to gas for the week. Carpool Karaoke is also a great option, but you might want to make sure everyone can carry a tune first.
Use Those Feet
If you’re fortunate enough to live close to your office, ditch your wheels or the train for some running shoes or a road bike, even if it’s just a few times a week. Physical activity is proven to be beneficial for your mental health, and starting your day with a little fresh air is a great way to rid yourself of work-related stress.
Need some extra motivation? There are plenty of guided fitness programs for beginners, and we guarantee it’s significantly cheaper than a personal trainer.
If you’re worried about freshening up, leave some extra clothes and shoes in your office, and if you don’t have access to a company shower, store some deodorant and a dry shower product in your desk.
Chances are, you will spend more than a year of your life commuting to and from work, but this doesn’t have to be time wasted. Crack open an audiobook, find a little zen, and harness your inner calm while surrounded by your fellow travelers.
After all, it’s your time.