There's no denying it: traffic stinks. But it's a fact of life for many American workers -- a stressful fact of life.
Sitting in traffic day after day for hours (or what seems like it) can really wear you down. It can cause health problems and just downright ruin your mood.
But you don't have to live with a frustrating commute every day. In fact, there are a number of ways to reduce your frustration and stress on your commute and have a happier time getting to and from work. We've shared more than 35 different tips and resources for making your commute better. Try them out and see how your drive to work improves!
Tips for Reducing Commute Related Stress
Get expert advice on what you can do to reduce your stress while commuting.
- Time your commute carefully: Head in to work half an hour earlier or later, and you may find that it saves you time and frustration on the road. Consider changing your working hours so you're not expected to arrive during rush hour.
- Try a different route: Sick of the same old route to and from work day in and day out? Next time, consider the scenic route. Even if it takes a bit longer, you may enjoy it more -- and less likely to get in an accident as you sit in heavy traffic.
- Get a good night's sleep: Traffic is never fun, but it's especially frustrating when you're low on energy. Do your best to get lots of sleep and feel refreshed before you hit the road.
- Make peace with traffic conditions: Understand going in each day that you'll be in stop and go traffic and may encounter rude drivers. It's just going to happen. Change your mindset and accept that commuting, while frustrating, is simply not going to magically change or get better tomorrow or the next day.
- Practice safe defensive driving habits: Let's face it: driving aggressively is stressful. Take it easy, drive safely, and practice defensive driving techniques to make your commute easier, safer, and less frustrating.
- Plan something fun: Your commute doesn't have to be limited to stop and go traffic with the morning show on the radio. Consider downloading an audio book, new music, or even a university lecture that you can listen to along the way while still driving safely.
Making the Most of Your Commute
Who says your commute has to be boring? While you should avoid tasks like eating or texting, there's still plenty you can do to be entertained and engaged.
- Business Insider: How to Make the Most of Your Commute: Check out BusinessInsider's suggestions for ways you can make your commute more productive and fun that don't include playing Candy Crush.
- Huffington Post: Commuting Stress: 6 Ways to Enjoy a More Relaxing Daily Commute: See how you can take steps to find more relaxation on your daily commute with these suggestions.
- Lifehack: 7 Ways to Make Commuting Suck Less: Take the drudgery out of your commute with these suggestions from Lifehack including learning a new language, listening to podcasts and books, taking courses, and listening to the news.
- Prevention: Stress Proof Your Commute: Protect your health while you commute with these suggestions from Prevention, including supplements, relaxing air fresheners, and a great audio book.
- Conscious Movements: A Conscious Commute: 3 Ways to Reduce Commute Stress: Relax and enjoy the commute by driving consciously with these three tips.
- Greatist: How to Commute the Healthy Way: Improve your commute and your health with Greatist's tips, including carpooling with a buddy, carefully choosing your music, and even changing into sneakers or more comfortable clothing for your commute.
- Direct Auto and Life Insurance: 3 Ways to De-Stress Your Commute: Check out these ideas for reducing commute stress. You can drive safely, consider alternatives, and find a way to make use of your time while commuting.
Listening to Music or Podcasts on Your Commute
With these resources, you can get access to great music and podcasts that can perk up your commute and reduce your stress.
- The Odyssey Online: Music and the Morning Commute: Find out how you can set the tone for your day with the right music on your commute.
- Goodnet: 8 Best Podcasts to Educate You on Your Commute: Check out this selection of podcasts that can educate you on your commute.
- NME: 29 Songs That Will Make Your Commute Bearable: Check out this list of songs designed to perk you up while you're in the car.
- OpenCulture: Ideas & Culture Podcasts: Want to do some big thinking on your commute? Tune in to these podcasts focusing on ideas and culture.
Learning on Your Commute
Make every commute a productive one with learning resources you can listen to while you drive. Whether you want to learn a new language, explore science, or listen to university lectures, these resources can help you learn while you sit in traffic.
- Open Education Database: Choose from more than 10,000 free online classes, many of them available as audio downloads, on the Open Education Database.
- OpenCulture: 1150 Free Online Courses from Top Universities: Many universities make their lectures public on iTunes or other audio resources. This list highlights more than 1,000 free courses available online, many of them with free downloadable audio to listen to in your car and use for learning on your commute.
- OpenCulture: Learn 48 Languages Online for Free: Spanish, English & More: Find 48 different language lessons including Spanish, French, English, Mandarin, Italian, and Russian, all available for audio download that you can listen to in your car.
- Duolingo: Make your commute more productive with Duolingo's language learning app, and listen along as you learn a new language while you drive to and from work.
- Radio Lingua Network: With the Radio Lingua Network, you can learn a language anywhere, any time. You can download lessons to listen on your mobile device while you're commuting, or even listen through iTunes as podcasts.
- OpenCulture: Science Podcast Collection: OpenCulture's collection of science podcasts can satisfy your curiosity and teach you a few things about science while you're sitting in traffic.
- FluentU: Listen Up: The 5 Best Audio Programs for Learning a Language: FluentU's suggestions for audio programs offer great resources for learning a language.
- iTunes U: Find podcasts, lectures, and audio downloads from the world's leading universities on iTunes U, then listen to them on your commute.
Reading on Your Commute
While it's certainly not safe to read a book while you're driving, it's typically perfectly fine to listen to a book in the car. Download classic books, contemporary novels, non fiction books, and more to listen to while you're driving.
- LibriVox: Download free public domain audio books read by volunteers worldwide from the LibriVox library.
- OverDrive: Have a library that offers free audio books through OverDrive? You can get access to contemporary and classic audio books for free that you can download and listen to on your commute.
- Audible: One of the most popular audio book resources available, Audible has more than 180,000 audio titles available to users with a monthly subscription.
- OpenCulture: 700 Free Audio Books: Download these great classic books for free and listen to them on your way in to work or on your way home. You'll find some of the best classic titles from authors including Hemingway, Twain, Austen, and Shakespeare.
Yoga and Mindfulness on Your Commute
Yoga is one of the most popular and trusted resources for reducing stress. While often, yoga is practiced at home or in a studio, you can also practice yoga in your car while you're driving. There are no complicated poses, but there is relaxation and mindfulness to help you through a stressful commute.
- Chopra: Yoga Off the Mat and on the Commute: Learn how you can practice yoga on your daily commute -- and stay safe behind the wheel. You'll be more comfortable, mindful, and feel better about the commuters you're stuck in traffic with.
- Healthy Psych: The Mindful Commuter: Find Inner Peace on Your Way to Work or School: Set a positive tone on your commute by practicing mindfulness. You can start your day or wind down positively.
- Drivetime Yoga: Become more calm on your commute and avoid pain with road tested yoga techniques. These yoga practices will help you get where you're going feeling great and ready to get the work positively.
- Shape: Reclaim Your Commute: Yoga Tips for the Car: Bring a feeling of zen into your car with these car based yoga tips.
- Elephant Journal: Car-ma: Yoga to Get Blissed (Not P*ssed) on Your Commute: Find out how you can practice car-ma on your commute with this resource.
Apps for a Stress Free Commute
Download these apps to find your way faster and make traffic fun.
- Waze: Traffic can change in an instant, making your current route slower while others speed up. With Waze, you'll always know the best route. This app uses real time traffic and road information to share the best information about traffic conditions with users. You'll even get alerts to road conditions up ahead.
- Beat the Traffic: Similar to Waze, Beat the Traffic makes it easy to personalize and choose your route using real time traffic information.
- Daily Commute: Want to track your daily commute times, or just make it into a game? You can track your commute performance each day using this app to see how long it usually takes you to get to and from work. You can even identify patterns such as school schedule delays or holiday traffic.
Photo by Flickr user danielle_scott