Let’s just be honest: commuting is the worst. The. Worst. Not only is it a nightmare fighting traffic or getting too close to creepy people on the subway, but the time spent commuting is time you’re not working or being productive. I’ve had amazing commutes (a quick 5 minute walk from my apartment) and heinous ones (bus, metro and walking – over an hour each way). No matter how long you commute or whether you drive, walk, or take public transportation, there are a few things that you can do every day to make your commute slightly more pleasant.
1. Be Mindful
Simply put – mindfulness is just a non-judgmental awareness of what is happening around you. If you take a few minutes during your commute to just be aware of where you are, you’re more likely to appreciate even small situations, like finding a seat on the metro, or the light turning green as you drive through. This can also be really helpful in relieving pre-work stressors.
2. Don’t Check Your Work Email
This is a big one. A lot of women want to check work email so that they don’t miss anything “important” on their way in to work. They want to be as available as possible and not be seen as unresponsive (even if it’s well before 7am). If you’re also guilty of this, I want you to think back to a time when you got an emergency email on the way to work AND were able to take care of the situation before you even got there. You probably can’t think of any of those situations. The truth is that you most likely can’t actually do anything about any emails that you get during the commute anyway – so why stress yourself out by checking your work email? Do yourself a favor and just wait until you get to work to start thinking about work.
3. Bring Your Tunes
I will admit to being addicted to listening to NPR or CSPAN during my commute like many of my fellow DC workaholics, but listening to music that you enjoy can release dopamine, a feel-good chemical. If you’re someone who drives to work, you can also try singing along to your favorite songs. Singing releases endorphins (the brain’s natural morphine) which makes you happy, and can help you relax and reduce anxiety. Singing can also strengthen your immune system.
4. Talk to a Friend
Don’t you just love when you have a miraculous free hour during the weekend and you call a friend and you spend time getting caught up? You hang up feeling so grateful to have such wonderful people in your life and vowing to make these kinds of calls more often. The morning or afternoon commute is the perfect time to recreate this glorious feeling! Think about friends who may also be going to work when you are and give one of them a call. I accidentally called one of my best friends who lives in LA during my lunch break and she picked up since she was driving to work. We ended up chatting for about 20 minutes and it made both of our days so much brighter. If you can’t call while you’re getting to work because you’re using public transportation, try sending a quick text or email to a loved one. Engaging with people that you love makes you happy & reduces stress – exactly what you need before heading in to the office!
5. Be Grateful
You’re standing next to someone who doesn’t smell awesome, you are exhausted, or your car’s air conditioner isn’t working – whatever the reason, when you’re on your way to work, it’s easy to feel bad for yourself. Reality check – you’re lucky to have a job to commute to and it is important to put our lives in to perspective sometimes. I know – it can be so annoying and sound so righteous to say it – but it’s true. And the fact is, there’s always something to be grateful for. When you’re totally miserable on a commute – look for three things to be grateful for in that instant. Getting a seat on the metro, having a great hair day, the thought of treating yourself to a latte later on, or that awesome chat you just had with a friend are all things to be grateful for.
Even if you love your job, getting there can feel like a huge burden. What do you do while you’re on your way to work to make it more bearable?