One of the worst parts of the work day may actually be getting there. According to a 2007 survey by Angus Reid Strategies for SIRIUS.
Feeling cramped, whether in a car or jammed next to strangers on a bus or train, can make people edgy. Then there are the feelings of helplessness, adds Wiesenthal, as you can only move as fast as the traffic. And for people using public transit, feelings of helplessness are worse, as you’re not in control at all.
“All of these things add up to create stress,” he says.
How can commuters alleviate their stress, and perhaps arrive at work or home in a better mood?
Crank up the tunes
…but only if it’s music of your choice. In a Wiesenthal study, drivers predisposed to stress who were forced to listen to a relaxation CD (e.g. new age music) reported feeling even more stressed. “Music can reduce stress as long as it’s self-selected and not imposed,” says Wiesenthal.
Beat the morning rush
Get your work clothes and materials arranged the night before, so you can leave earlier. At the end of the day, leave a bit later to let the afternoon rush dwindle. Use the time to catch up on work, do errands, or just decompress from the day.
Commute with a friend or colleague
Car pool or share a ride on mass transit. “That’s most successful when you have similar backgrounds and interests,” says Wiesenthal. “You need more in common than working at the same place.”
Get flex time
Explore the possibility of flexible working times (or working more from home) so that you can commute during off-peak hours.
Take a deep breath
Engage in deep breathing to reduce drive-time stress.