Commuting to and from work can be very dull and not the most looked-forward-to time of the day for anyone (But if you do enjoy commuting, good for you!). Particularly after a hard day of work and all you want to do is have a shower, enjoy a nice meal and be in the comfort of your own home. Day after day of having to drive back home, only to be greeted with bad traffic can give you an undesirable amount of stress and eventually, will take a toll on your well-being and overall health. Even the thought of it would give anyone the feeling of despair and misery.
For all you commuters out there, here are some of my advice for you to turn a stressful commute to a more relaxing experience:
- Turn the music up!
I find music to be a good tool to reduce stress, especially during a boring commute. Have a playlist ready and take advantage of your ‘me time’ in the car. Perhaps even use your commute to discover a new genre of music that you have never properly listened to. Today, country music. Tomorrow, Italian Opera? Who knows, you might like it. And if you do, turn it up! This leads to advice number 2.
- Sing your heart out
Whether you have the voice of an angel or one that would make your flatmate rush into your room to make sure you are okay, just sing out a tune. Sing along to your favourite song on the radio or a throwback song of your 90’s self. If other commuters in the car next to you start to stare, let them. Let them stare at what they are missing out on!
Little that people know that singing releases oxytocin and endorphins, both chemicals that help in relieving stress – and subsequently would enhance your mood!
- Listen to podcasts/audiobooks
Is reading the Harry Potter books always been on your to-do list but never gotten around to do it? Want to try something different other than listening to the DJ playing the same old songs on the radio? Try listening to audiobooks or podcasts instead during your commute. They can be informative and entertaining to brighten up your dull commute. With the right audiobook or podcast, you would not even realise that you have reached your destination!
- Switch off your phone
I always find getting message notifications during a drive to be awfully distracting and gives me a certain degree of anxiety. A simple way to avoid any of these would be by switching off your phone or switch them to the aeroplane mode. Not only you will be able to concentrate better, it will also be a safer journey for you and everyone else on the road.
- Choose the right scent
We all have that one particular aroma that gives us of tranquillity and peace. So plug-in an aromatherapy diffuser in your car. Choosing the right scent can help to alleviate mood and put that not-so-graceful road rage on hold. One tip is to avoid having the same scent you have in the office with the one in your car. Maybe even change the diffuser every 2 months to your sense of smell from being bored!
- Wear comfortable shoes
Have a pair of comfortable shoes in your car ready. Leveraging between pedals can be quite strenuous for the ankle so comfy driving shoes would be a solution for this. The ideal pair of shoes for driving would be one that is flat and rubber-soled. One that could give a good grip and easy mobility between pedals. Changing your shoes after a daily grind at the office could signal your body that it is time to relax. Remember: comfortable driving shoes go a long way.
- Practice progressive relaxation
What is that you may ask? It is a simple 2-step process to relax your muscles. It is especially useful when you are stuck in traffic during rush hour. All you need to do is shift your car to neutral, gradually tense the muscles in your feet and release the tension. Slowly work your way up the body, tensing and relaxing different muscle groups. Pay special attention to areas that regularly experience tightness when you are driving. Practicing this constantly will ensure you a more comfortable and relaxing wait during traffic.
- Enjoy the view
Admire the colourful sky as the sun start to set and appreciate the serenity that it portraits. The sky is a canvas that is ever-changing. If you would pay to look at abstract paintings at an art gallery, why not take advantage of the free artwork that is the sky? But of course, avoid at all cost, zoning out completely when you are behind the wheels!
- Remember our Creator
Remind yourself that Allah is always with you and He is As-Salaam, the giver of peace. When stuck in traffic embrace each breath with gentleness and remind yourself that you are always in His care and every part of you is at peace. Wherever you are, mindfulness is key in reducing stress and anxiety.