Don’t Let The Daily Commute Kill You – Stress Free Work Travel

By on January 24, 2014


The daily work commute can be a figurative pain in the neck. But it needn’t be that way. There are constructive steps you can take to manage that stress before, during, and after your daily travels.

And it all starts with having the right mindset from the outset.

You’ll develop a much stronger sense of control over your daily commute and minimize anxiety if you routinely remind yourself that the duration of the daily commute is the product of your own considered decisions as to where you choose to live and work.

With that shift in mindset focus you can then go about making your daily commute in to a ‘peaceful cocoon’ of time between your other obligations, but only if you allow yourself to see it that way. Here’s what you can do:

Before Commuting: 

  1. Start early. Get to bed early and leave before the morning rush. Prepare as much as you can the night before including choosing your clothes. Prepare a fresh, wholesome breakfast that you can enjoy in the morning. Freeing up more of your time at the start of the day in this way will help you to feel more relaxed from the outset.
  2. Avoid the evening rush. Try to schedule some of your activities, exercises or plans with friends after work in order to avoid the direct rush towards home. By pro-actively spacing out your movements during the evening rush hour, you’ll find you can still get home at a sensible time and be content with the knowledge that you’ve filled your time pursuing less stressful and more productive activities.  And when you get home, your partner/family has the benefit of your undivided attention.
  3. Consider flexible hours. Where possible propose a schedule enabling you to cover your responsibilities whilst at the same time enabling you to shorten your commute. There may be a way for you to work (more) at home or rotate your hours. Both arriving and leaving one hour earlier might keep you out of the traffic and slash your commute time. Many corporations already have rules outlined in their employee handbooks to accommodate this sort of approach.
  4. Consider alternative transport. Consider public transportation and the viability of carpooling. If you don’t need to travel long distances, try cycling or walking if not every time, at least on some occasions.  The health and wellbeing benefits of this are obvious.
  5. Stay fit and healthy. By eating a nutritious diet, getting adequate sleep and exercising regularly you’ll make yourself more resilient to many of the more common forms of stress.

While Commuting:

  1. Think positively. Use the time to prepare the brain for getting into ‘work mode.’ Focus on your plans for the day ahead rather than allowing yourself to become resentful or frustrated.
  2. Use relaxation exercises. Identify relaxation methods that work best for you. You might even benefit from just taking a few deep breaths and/or visualizing something positive.
  3. Get adjusted. Take a moment to tweak your car seat. Just as you would do with your desk chair, adjust your seat so posture is upright and there’s minimal strain on your back. Make use of a small cushion if you need extra back support. On longer commutes, shift position frequently to avoid strain and backaches.
  4. Keep it fun. Listen to your favorite music or books. Remind that little voice in your head: “Hey, I want to get to work or arrive home feeling good instead of just feeling awful.” Learn or brush up on a foreign language with an audio course. If you take public transport, you may even be able to use your tablet or smart phone to read the news or relax and watch movies.

After Commuting:

  1. Clear your mind. Switch your mind to the present moment and leave behind any thoughts of any travel tension that you’ve possibly just been through so you can enjoy the evening.
  2. ‘Welcome’ yourself. Establish some form of ritual you enjoy so as to put yourself in a pleasant state of mind.


There may ultimately come a point where you may want to factor commuting time into your decisions regarding where you live and work. After all, how much of your life are you willing to invest in sitting in a car or train? Some trade-off s might be worth considering if they allow you to spend more quality time with your family and friends.

Tell us about your commute experience and how you deal with it by posting a comment below.

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