Is your commute getting you down? It can be a hectic, stressful part of your day. My grandfather used to love to drive. He lived across the street from his factory, so he didn’t commute, but almost every Sunday afternoon, he’d go for his weekly drive. It was all pleasure. He was never in a hurry, and he’d think about things while he drove. It was his time of mindfulness, although it wasn’t called that back in the 1960’s. He had a 1964, Chevy Impala in baby blue. Even though I was only a passenger a few times, I remember it well.
Now things are different. It’s a fast-paced world with a constant rush to get ahead. The U.S. Census Bureau revealed in 2015 that American’s spend an average of 26 minutes commuting each way to work. Is this you?
If you drive 26 minutes each way to your workplace, at five days a week, 48 weeks a year, that adds up to 60 hours. Imagine, 60 continuous hours driving your car in only one year.
Think to yourself, is this time spent in relaxation like my Grampa, Milo? Or is it more of a stressful experience? You may not even realize how tense you are while you’re driving. Next time you’re driving to work, make a note to pay attention to your body. Do you have tension in your face around your forehead, eyes, and jaw? Do you feel tight in your shoulders and chest? Is your breathing shallow and strained?
Here are five changes to make so you’ll look forward to your commutes. They will start to become a time of peace, relaxation, and reflection.
1. Decide To Change
Sometimes we don’t give ourselves permission to change. Actual changes happen when you make a decision to change because it will offer one or more benefits. Will you avoid pain or add pleasure to your life? Would your relationship with a loved one improve, if you were more relaxed and happy when you got home from work? Would your friends perceive you differently if you were a happier person? It is up to you to decide right now whether you want to make a change in this area of your life.
2. Create A Routine
Decide on a time that you will leave for work every day. Make sure it gives you some extra time in case of traffic or weather challenges. Write down the time and stick to it. If you get to work early some days, enjoy the extra time and see it as a perk. If you listen to the news or shows that may be considered stressful, change your listening content to something soothing instead, or simply choose silence. Give your brain a relaxing break while you drive. Nature sounds are another calming alternative to include in your new routine.
Notice your breathing. At every red traffic light, take a deep, easy, relaxed breath, in through your nose. Pause for three seconds and let it out slowly through your mouth. If you don’t encounter many red lights, change that detail to suit your specific drive.
4. Leave Competition Behind
Competition is great in sports and even to help you motivate yourself. Having an attitude of competition while driving to work every day does not benefit you and is a recipe for disaster over the long run. Even if you pass a dozen or more cars during your drive, you’ll only arrive at work a minute or two sooner. Decide to give up that desire to always get ahead of the car in front of you.
5. Reward Yourself
So you’ve changed your driving routine. You’re leaving at the same time every day. You’re getting used to breathing deep, relaxed breaths during your drive. You’re no longer itching to get ahead of every car on the road. Give yourself credit for your progress and treat yourself by going for a test drive in the car of your dreams, even if it isn’t in your budget. Or plan a special meal with somebody you care about and share how you’ve become more relaxed during your commute.
Make these changes in your life, and you’ll start to notice some other shifts. Your new way of being relaxed while you drive may improve your sleep quality. Imagine if your better sleep patterns meant that you started getting more invitations to hang out with people you love to be around. You might notice you’re spending more time on your hobbies because you’re more relaxed during the evenings. People may even comment that you seem to love your life more than ever. And maybe you’ll start to notice a few classic Chevy’s on the road and it’ll make you think of my super chill, Grampa Milo.