Joyous Blog

5 Ways to Make Your Daily Commute Better

Nov 15, 2015 BY Walker Jordan

Our daily commute is getting longer and longer.  In Toronto for example, the average daily commute is 65.6 minutes, which equates to:

[tweet_box design="default"]5.46 hours/week; 21.9 hours/month and 263 hours every year we spend getting from point A to B - that's a lot of time![/tweet_box ]

The sad part is, I think the 65.6 is actually pretty reasonable. I personally had a job that had me commuting 1.5-2hours every day and I know many people who do that and more who commute 3+ hours on a daily basis.

Here's the moral of the story: we spend a lot of time in our cars, likely stuck in traffic with schedules to keep and deadlines to meet.  This can be a breeding ground for stress, anxiety and generally any other emotion that will put you in a bad mood. The best alternative is to not commute at all, but since that's probably not likely, here are some ways to make your commute better.  

Driving Position

Being that you spend so much time in your car, you're going to want to make sure you have the proper driving position. No, a better position will not make traffic move any quicker, but it will allow you to arrive at your destination more relaxed, while helping you avoid any of the classic driving fatigue symptoms such as a sore neck and lower back.  Here are a few of the more overlooked adjustments that you can do to help:

Seat height: Make sure you're seat is high enough so you aren't straining your neck to see beyond the front of the car.

Head rest: Your head rest should support your head in a neutral position.  Check to see if your headrest is either pushing your head forward or allowing it to tilt too far back.

Lumbar support: If it is adjustable, the lumbar (lower back) support of your seat should mimic the natural curve in your spine. Check for too much or too little support.

Steering column: Probably the most over looked, make sure that the steering wheel is the proper distance from your body. How do you know? Make sure your seat is close enough to the pedals so you can fully depress the pedals. Next, adjust the steering column so that it's close enough that when you turn the wheel, your shoulders should not come off the backrest.

Not every car will offer all of these adjustments, but find the ones you can change and see if you can make any improvements. 

Take the opportunity to explore something new

You're stuck in traffic and have the same radio station on day after day, playing the same music and running the same ads - it's almost white noise at this point.  If you're happy doing this, then by all means keep going, however why not take the 5 hours / week you're in the car to explore something new?  This is an incredible opportunity to find new music you may like, listen to a podcast about something that interests you or even listen to an audeo book that you've been wanting to read.

By exploring something new, you'll not only be exposed to new ideas, topics or sounds, but the mental stimulation that comes along with it will have you arriving at your destination feeling better and refreshed.

Plan ahead

This one is pretty simple. Do you have somewhere important to be? A meeting? Interview? Dance recital? Regardless of where you need to be, plan ahead and give yourself a little extra time in the event your commute takes you longer than anticipated. Not only will you arrive on time, but you'll be far more relaxed and a generally more pleasant person (well, at least I am).

"It is what it is"

I'm stealing this quote from a former colleague of mine, Solay, who used to say it all the time. At first glance it's not particularly deep, or provocative or thought provoking, but in it's simplicity is something I love. For me, it speaks to working within the circumstances that you find yourself in vs. trying to change them.  Some may call it passive, but I call it adaptive.

It applies perfectly to your daily commute. If you find yourself grinding away in traffic for what seems like an eternity, instead of getting angry and stressed you sometimes just have to accept that, it is what it is. Getting stressed it not going to get you to your destination any quicker; the only difference is that you'll arrive with a elevated cortisol level.

So with that said, next time you find your blood boiling in traffic, channel your inner Solay and say: "It is what it is".

Take the opportunity to do nothing

Contrary to my second point, sometimes driving can be an opportunity to do absolutely nothing. Turn off the radio, ditch your phone and simply be alone with your thoughts.  This is one of my favourite parts of driving - I get so much thinking done, it really is a form of therapy for me.  There are very few times and places where we have the opportunity to disconnect, the car is still one of them.  That and, driving while being on your phone isn't a good idea for anyone.

So there you have it! These are the ways I help to make my commute better and I hope they help you as well.

HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR COMMUTE BETTER?

COMMENT AND SHARE BELOW!

Nov 15, 2015 BY Walker Jordan
7 Comments
Carol   •   November 16, 2015

I listen to audio books. I get 4 or 5 from the library at a time, it's a great way to "read a book" in the car.

Reply
Kate McDonald Walker   •   November 17, 2015

I'm also a big fan of audiobooks (and podcasts) while commuting. I like the feeling that I'm learning something while I'm stuck on the subway or streetcar. Kate - Joyous Health Team


Briana   •   November 17, 2015

Hi Walker and Joy! I LOVE listenting to podcasts! Such a great idea! I'm really enjoying listening to Gretchen Rubin's "Happier" Podcast. They give great tips on happy living and usually give you something to try that very day. I'd love to hear if you two have some favourite podcasts health/happiness oriented or otherwise :) Thank you for posting this! I'll share it with my friends!

Reply
Kate McDonald Walker   •   November 18, 2015

Hi Briana, I'm probably the biggest podcast junkie on the JH team. I don't typically listen to health-specific ones (although some of them do overlap in subject matter), but some of my favourites are Stuff Mom Never Told You, Quirks and Quarks, Stuff You Missed in History Class and 99% Invisible. Kate - Joyous Health Team


Meredith   •   November 18, 2015

I actually found that I enjoy talk radio- A LOT. I talk back to the radio when topics are being discussed and if I'm really feeling extra 'sassy', I will call into the show (hands free of course) to voice my opinion. I also vary my route to work as well, take different roads, explore the area a bit.

Reply

Komal Sharma   •   April 28, 2016

I have found an App called CommuteMaster. This is very helpful in making our daily commute hassle free. It notifies about the issues you might face while going to office or coming back to home. Highly recommended from me.

Reply
Heather Allen   •   April 28, 2016

Thanks for sharing! Heather- Joyous Health team


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