Talking Points
April 2024

Can You Believe This Traffic? 4 Ways to De-stress Your Crazy Commute


The alarm goes off. You’re worried about the big presentation, the dog just chewed up your best shoes, you have a meeting with the boss later in the day, you’re dealing with a sick child–and now you have to face a maddening commute just to get to the office.

Your commute can be the most stressful part of the day–even if you’re in your dream job. Whether you carpool, ride the train or take your own wheels, a commute can increase your stress level, bring on fatigue, and with all the sitting even add to the waistline. Just the thought of facing it can stress you out.

Next time you face the prospect of sitting behind a sea of red lights, try these tips.

  1. Mindset
    Obsessing won’t help. Realize that everyone else on the road is doing the same thing you are. The situation doesn’t cause the stress; it’s our reaction to the stressors. Reframe your thinking and instead of anger over traffic and aggressive drivers, work on positive ways to use this downtime.
  2. Do something fun
    How about plugging in to laugh with a comedy podcast? It doesn’t just fill the time; a good laugh actually lowers the level of stress hormones. Or how about listening to books on audio? Is studying a new language fun for you? This could be a good time to do it.
  3. Take a deep breath
    There are ways to safely relax and prevent stress while driving. Long, slow deep breaths immediately release tension. Pay attention to your posture–shoulders back; head upright, hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
  4. Charging in to the peak time of highway hell may be your only option, but leaving just ten minutes early could save a half hour of sitting in traffic. Experiment with new and alternate routes at different times that may be quicker and avoid main roads. And speaking of time–give yourself more. Plan your morning routine so you won’t be crazed running out the door.

Don’t think of your commute as a prison. Find ways to occupy your time and change your focus. It might not make the drive a breeze, but you may just arrive in a more relaxed state.



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