Long daily commutes are par for the course in many regions of Florida, particularly in South Florida. According to data from the Census Bureau, the average commute time in 2011 in Broward County was 27.5 minutes each way. The average in Palm Beach County was 23.9 minutes each way.
According to CNN, long daily commutes put drivers at risk for stress, anxiety and related health conditions. Stressful commutes also can lead to an increase in aggressive driving and instances of road rage, which can cause accidents.
In the interest of promoting good health and wellbeing, no matter the circumstances, we offer these 10 tips for taking the stress out of your daily commute.
1. Switch up your routine – Change the time you leave the house in the morning or the office at night, if your schedule will allow some flexibility. For instance, arriving an hour earlier in the morning and leaving an hour earlier in the afternoon may allow you to skip the morning and evening rush hours.
2. Share the ride – Start an office carpool and share driving responsibilities with coworkers and/or neighbors. You may find that pleasant conversation makes the long drive and traffic jams more bearable and less stressful.
3. Make the most of your time – Listen to that backlog of podcasts you’ve been meaning to catch up on, listen to a book on CD or learn a second language. One caveat: Set up your CD/device before you start driving and turn it off if it’s distracting in any way.
4. Unplug – On the other end of the spectrum, you may use your evening commute as a way to unplug from technology completely. Safely stow away your cell phone, turn off the radio and enjoy the silence.
5. Try a new route – Vary your route as much as possible, switching up major interstates like I-95 and I-595 for surface streets and vice versa. This simple switch-up may keep you from getting burned out on the daily commute.
6. Listen to a calming soundtrack – Create a few playlists for your daily commute and switch them up according to your mood. Upbeat tunes may be good for getting pumped up for Monday morning, while tranquil instrumental music may be better suited for unwinding after a stressful day.
7. Take deep breaths – It’s difficult to remain calm and focused when another driver acts irresponsibly. Take five deep breaths when you feel tension and anger mounting.
8. Relieve tension – Holding a death grip on the steering wheel can cause tension headaches and achy shoulders. Loosen your grip on the wheel and make an effort to relax.
9. Think about things in a new way – Ignore the clock and the trip odometer and try to think of this as time for yourself to unwind and let go of the day’s stresses.
10. Let it go – Feeling angry with a rude driver? Make a conscious effort to laugh it off instead of letting it get to you.
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