Long commutes have been linked to poorer productivity, and a UK research found that those who spend longer hours commuting are 33% more likely to suffer from depression and 12% more likely to suffer from work-related stress!
It’s no different in Malaysia, with our infamous rush hour traffic choking up roads leading into the city in the morning and early evening. With 41% of Malaysians listing traffic jams as their top frustration, it’s no surprise to find that most of us have a negative view of commuting to and from work. The traffic problem we face could also be the root of road rage and dangerous driving from the stresses of being on the road for too long. Knowing that there is no way to escape the traffic, what can you do to make your commute less stressful or more productive?
1. Make comfortable commuting a priority for yourself
If you absolutely cannot stand the slow-moving crawl and find yourself experiencing signs of stress and anxiety, try leaving for work a little earlier to see if you can avoid the headache of bad traffic. Once you’ve managed to lock down that sweet hour with less cars on the road, you’ll soon find that your journeys become calmer and that you would arrive without the usual frazzled feeling that traffic jams can cause.
Sometimes, the strain sets in because you’re travelling on your own. But the journey to work doesn’t have to feel like a chore if you’re travelling with other people. Whether you’re carpooling, doing a round of ride-sharing or taking public transport with a friend, the daily work commute will be less dreary with a companion.
2. Turn your car into your second home
It’s the small things that make a big difference. Put some effort to make your commute comfortable and the traffic more bearable. You could slip into a pair of comfortable shoes or slippers while driving – a change of footwear signals to your body that it is now time to relax after a day of work. You could also include a small back or neck pillow to make your seat more comfortable.
Scents are also an effective and quick way to relieve stress. Build a small aromatherapy sanctuary with the help of natural scented essential oils such as lavender, jasmine, or ylang-ylang, and enjoy the fragrance-filled car ride.
3. Commuting can be productive too
A long commute of more than an hour may sometimes feel like a waste of time. If you’re taking public transport, why not spend that time catching up on some news or reading? Playing a few rounds of mind-stimulating games also helps you mentally prepare for the day.
If you’re driving to work and looking for ways to distract yourself from the traffic jam, you can consider giving yourself some variety by diversifying your audio library with podcasts or audiobooks. Depending on the source or material, you could end up learning a new language, discovering interesting facts about niche subjects, or just listening to heart-warming anecdotes. When you are engrossed in something interesting like an entertaining story, you’ll find that time passes more quickly and your journey will end up being more enjoyable.
4. Spend some time meditating and being mindful
It can be difficult to drown out all the noise that surrounds you while commuting – the honking of impatient drivers, the loud and constant chatter of a crowd – all this can easily add to your anxiety levels. While you may not be able to silence your environment, you can work on giving your mind some peace. Meditating isn’t just about chanting mantras, it can be as simple as breathing exercises to help soothe your body and mind. You can begin by clearing your mind, focusing on your breathing, using your imagination to place yourself in a place you feel at peace at, and tuning into a peaceful playlist to help you concentrate.
You can also try to take control of your thoughts by thinking of positive things that you look forward to or that have already happened during the day. Inculcating a habit of positive thinking or gratitude daily helps to get you in a positive frame of mind to take on the day. When you carry over the calm, positive mood from your commute to the rest of your day, it can help you come up with rational solutions to any problems that may crop up.
5. Enjoy the gift of music
We’ve all experienced the rush of joy from listening to the opening tunes of our favourite song. In fact, the authors of the book “Your Playlist Can Change Your Life" say that when you carefully curate a playlist, the tunes you select not only boosts your mood, they can also reduce anxiety, get you motivated, and even fight off depression and insomnia.
Some studies that were conducted show that relaxing classical not only soothes your mind, it can also keep your emotions in check and enhance your ability to think clearly. You don’t have to always be listening to Beethoven, but when you create a playlist for your commute, put together a list of songs that can help lift your spirits and channel positivity to take your mind off external stress factors.
These are just some of the ways that can help you feel less stressed during your journey to and from work. Learning to embrace your daily commute and fighting the stress can keep you more motivated to take on the day, or have you looking forward to work the next day, which can lead to an increase in positivity and productivity – both of which are great outcomes!
The above articles are intended for informational purposes only. AIA accepts no responsibility for loss, which may arise from reliance on information contained in the articles.