Rush hour with bumper-to-bumper to traffic is hardly anyone’s idea of a good way to start or end the day. After a long day at work, sometimes a heavy commute only compounds the stress of your day. Here are five things you can do to help you de-stress as you drive home from work.
Turn off talk radio
While you may feel more informed, enlightened or engaged after listening to the news, it’s likely that the talking heads coming through your car speakers are reporting on doom and gloom or debating opinions from callers and guests on the show. The tension alone is enough to raise your heart rate. Instead, try getting your news from the Internet or a newspaper when you have control over what you ingest.
Tune into the positive
If you just can’t break your addiction to the background noise of talk radio, try tuning into the comedy stations of Pandora (this is tip from one of our team members at Teeter who swears this has helped turn his entire commute around). Or look into books on tape or podcasts that can teach you something or remove you from the stresses of the day by recharging your mind on your drive home.
If comedy or podcasts aren’t your cup of tea, tap into the music that helps you unwind best. You may prefer relaxing tunes or heavy metal – whatever helps you de-stress before you arrive home. Experiment with what works and keep a selection of music in your car.
Do your good deed for the day
It’s not necessary to look at your commute as a constant battle on the open road, where you fight for every inch of progress. Letting people into your lane and keeping ample car lengths in front of you and the next car can help naturally ease traffic congestion. Plus, look at it as a positive way to help improve someone else’s day – the length of your commute will hardly be affected by this act of generosity and you can decrease the risk of a road rage incident. If someone cuts you off or acts out aggressively, trying taking a deep breath and giving them the benefit of the doubt. Holding onto resentment only makes you more stressed out.
Being on your feet all day or sitting in an office chair is highly compressive to the discs between your vertebrae. You have probably lost a little bit of height throughout the day and may be contending with sore muscles. When you are paused in traffic, rotated your shoulders in a circular motion backwards and forwards a few times to get your blood flowing. Gently lean your head to one side and imagine your ear is a heavy weight that wants to pull down toward your shoulder. Feel the gentle stretch as you let your head hang over your shoulder, take a couple of deep breaths, and repeat on the other side. Stretching will not only help your body physically relax, but it will mentally take you out of your mind and place your attention on your body – helping quiet the thoughts of your busy day.
Make your car a sanctuary
Some of us spend a lot of time in our cars, and dirty seats and cluttered floors can only add stress to your drive time. Keeping your car tidy, clean and smelling nice can make you happy to get in your car at the end of the day. Keep some snacks like almonds or raisins in your car and a bottle of water so you can stay hydrated and stave-off low blood sugar.