If you have a long or difficult morning commute, then you know how stressful this part of your day can be. This frustration can distract you from driving, lead to an accident, and even a general auto insurance claim. Luckily, there are a few easy things you can do to reduce the stress of your commute. We've put together our top three tips to get you there, and back again, without losing your mind.
1. Drive safely
You may think that you're saving time and money by weaving through traffic and running yellow lights, but you're probably just adding stress to your commute. Drop the mentality that you're racing other cars, advises psychology professor Meni Koslowsky, Ph.D., in an interview with Reader's Digest. Instead, stay in your lane and move forward at a steady pace. You'll save money on gas, vehicle repairs, and potential traffic violations if you slow down and drive safely. Chances are, you'll get to where you're going in the same amount of time.
2. Make use of your time
Some people feel that their commute is a big waste of time. It can be - if you're not putting it to good use.
Instead of listening to talk radio, invest in a few good e-books, recommends Lifehacker. Are there any classics you never got around to reading? Use this time to catch up. By focusing on personal development, you'll be making use of your commute time, which will lower your stress level. You may even be able to find the books you're looking for at your library for free.
Another option is to use this time to get a head-start on work-related tasks. If part of your job involves calling clients, consider buying a hands-free headset to get through some of these tasks during your long commute. If you choose to do this, however, make sure that you don't lose focus on the road. If your job requires you to read articles or other long pieces of text, using a program like Natural Readers to convert text into audio files before you leave can save you time when you get into the office. If you're really committed to getting a head-start, you may even be able to leave work early and beat the afternoon rush.
3. Consider alternatives
One of the best ways to de-stress your commute, according to Koslowsky, is to take public transportation. Many people choose to drive themselves to work in order to maintain control. When you get stuck in traffic, you get stressed because you feel this control being taken away from you. By willfully giving up control and taking public transportation, you may be able to relax. Trains are the best form of public transit for reducing stress, because they are more reliable than buses or trams which can get stuck in traffic. Trains won't wait, though, so make sure you're on time. As a bonus, think of the money you'll be saving on gas, car maintenance, and on your auto insurance premium due to the reduced mileage on your vehicle.
If you're social, another option may be to carpool to work. The research is unclear as to whether carpooling reduces stress, says Koslowsky, because different people like different things for their commutes. If you tend to be an introvert and would rather listen to music or an audio book through your commute, this may not be the right option for you. On the other hand, if you love to talk, carpooling could be a great way to reduce the stress of a lengthy commute, and the impact on your wallet.