Of all the things that cause us stress and anxiety—a heavy workload, financial woes and a cluttered home, to name a few—commuting to work is one of the most universally loathed. And it’s not just an unpleasant experience: Long commutes have been linked to a number of negative health outcomes, including high stress levels, poor sleep, unhealthy weight, and even a shorter life. A 2011 Swedish study also found that couples where one partner commutes for at least 45 to work each day have a 40 percent higher chance of getting divorced.
“Commuting is … a mundane task about as pleasurable as assembling flat-pack furniture or getting your license renewed, and you have to do it every day,” Annie Lowrey wrote in a Slate article, “Your Commute Is Killing You,” after the Swedish study was published. “If you are commuting, you are not spending quality time with your loved ones. You are not exercising, doing challenging work, having sex, petting your dog, or playing with your kids (or your Wii).”
But your commute doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence—this time slot when you’re free to not do anything (except get yourself from point A to point B) can actually be one of the most relaxing parts of your day. Reframing the way you view the trip and trying some healthy tips can turn your commute from a twice-daily source of stress into a peaceful time to yourself between the demands of work and home.
Keep reading for tips on making your commute less stressful…
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