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How to Avoid Stress when Driving

Updated on September 3, 2012

The Commute

Does the thought of getting in your car every morning before work and every evening after work make you a little bit sick to your stomach. Do you feel your blood pressure rise when you are sitting in traffic just trying to get to work or back home? If you are familiar with these feelings of stress every time you think about your commute, it is likely that you suffer from commute stress.

Research has shown that the stress of commuting to and from work or school can take a big toll on a person's health. The research states that there are direct physiological issues related to long commutes that consist of 18 or more miles one way. These issues include raised blood pressure and the release of stress hormones into the body.

While there is no way to completely do away with your commute, there are plenty of ways to battle the stress of driving during these times.

Advance Prepararation

The first step for reducing your commute stress is to prepare yourself for the morning commute the night before. This includes getting your clothes out, any documents that you need to take with you, lunches, and anything else that you will need to take with you. Taking these steps will help you avoid the mad dash in the morning, giving you time for your early morning routines, time to eat a nutritious breakfast, and time to enjoy your family.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Everyone knows how important sleep is. Getting the proper amount of sleep is important in every facet of our lives. In order to reduce stress, it is important to get enough rest. When you are tired your frustration levels increase and your brainpower will falter. Going to bed earlier and getting up earlier can help relieve some of the stress of commuting each morning.

Change Work Hours

If your company allows you to have a flexible schedule, consider changing to a shift such as 10 to 6 instead of the regular 9 to 5. Changing your shift to something other than the typically nine to five schedule can be extremely helpful in avoiding those rush hour commutes. Finding an alternative shift that meets the needs of your lifestyle is definitely worth checking into.

Carpool

Carpooling may seem like a hassle when you consider organizing your arrivals and departures with one or two coworkers. However, it may be well worth it as riding with someone else can help reduce commuter stress by a significant amount. Having someone to talk to during the trip as well as share the drive time can help you relax while you are on the road and is worth consideration.

Make your Car into a "Cocoon"

Instead of becoming frustrated when you are stuck in traffic, use your time to your advantage. Make a cd of your favorite music to listen to while you are in your car. If you enjoy reading, but don't have a lot of time to devote to it, check out some audio books from your library. You could even check out foreign language tapes and teach yourself a new language.

Another idea is to do some car exercises. Some of these include tummy tucks, shoulder rolls, and neck extensions. Each of these will reduce tension and help you stay awake.

Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and making time for it either before or after work can help reduce your commute stress as well.

These are just a few steps that you can take in order to help make your commute a little more pleasant. If the commute stress is still getting to you, ask your company if they would allow you to work from home at least one day a week so you are making the drive less often.

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