November 13, 2018. By Lori Patterson:

Living or working in the Boston area certainly has its advantages, but rush hour traffic certainly isn’t one of them. Traffic hang-ups have gotten worse over the past decade and have even outpaced the road construction and freeway expansions originally meant to ease the congestion. Many outdated before completion, roadwork projects are rarely seen as optimistic feats. Almost any main artery in or around Boston is heavily traveled during most of the work day outwardly making a joke of the term “rush hour”. That said, if you are forced to brave the roadways for your 9-to-5, it may be helpful to consider the following resources and mental strategies to help ward off stress as you make your way into work.

  • Electronic Resources –Many people in our office use the commuting time to catch up on podcasts or listen to audiobooks. There are many subscription services by which you can download audiobooks directly to your mobile phone, and local libraries often offer audiobooks in both digital and disc form. In some cases, these books can be a fraction of the cost of their printed versions. Alternatively, you can take the time to unplug and enjoy the silence! This may be the only chance you have for the rest of your day.
  • Visualization: Mentally Plan Your Day– Using this time to plan your upcoming tasks can also help derail stress while providing a sense of accomplishment before you even get to work or return home. Visualize these tasks taking place just as planned to experience the benefits of positive thinking.
  • Ignore The Crazy, Aggressive Driver –There’s almost always one…the person who veers in-and-out of traffic only to make an inch of progress ahead of you. You can just shake your head and assume that he is having a much worse day than you. Be a respectful driver instead…it just feels better.
  • Yoga Breathing –As an avid runner, I’ve studied the benefits of deep breathing quite a bit.  Deep breathing has been promoted to improve cardio workouts by increasing overall lung power, especially in the running community. Sometimes, when you just need a mental break from it all, it can also help you clear your head, calm your nerves and soothe anxiety.  Andy Puddicome of Headspace, a meditation app,recommends deep breathing for two minutes before you start your engine for a transformative commute.
  • Be Thankful –Although sometimes difficult, using perspective to combat the stressful commute can be helpful too. Use this time for self-kindness and be thankful for all that you have accomplished, having overcome challenges much more difficult than a traffic jam. Maybe you are thankful to be commuting for a job that you love, and for your good health that allows you to perform it.  Perhaps you are thankful for the monetary resources your job provides, and the opportunities these resources lend to you personally on the days you are not on the road.  Mentally highlighting the things which you are thankful for may help you loosen the grip on your steering wheel a bit.
  • Sing It Out! –Tried and true stress relief at its finest! I know people who just prefer to belt out tunes when the going gets tough or their eyes get tired. This free Spotify playlist offers just over an hour of songs that are sure to get you singing: Songs You Know the Words To. Just be sure to pay attention to the road as you prepare for your next karaoke performance.

Next time you find yourself in traffic, or a stressful situation, I hope these strategies will help. If your commute is long enough, you might want to incorporate them all! Have a commuting survival list of your own? Tweet your ideas to @Centerpoint_Now, we’d love to hear them!