Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead. – Mac McCleary
Unfortunately, it seems as if many of us dread our morning commute. We don’t even like to think about it – all the traffic, the stopping, the starting, the rushing, the worrying. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
You can enjoy your commute. It will take some lifestyle adjustments, some time, and a re-thinking of your routine, but you can do it. Below are five steps that you can use to start improving and enjoying your commute today.
1. Wake Up Earlier
By far the number one thing you can do to make your commute more enjoyable is to wake up earlier. They say that time is money, but time is also happiness. How often do you have time to simply sit, and enjoy the morning? Waking up earlier gives you the time to clear your head, relax, and get ready at your own pace. Instead of getting dressed while guzzling down your morning coffee, sit down and just sip. Maybe you can even observe a beautiful sunrise without worrying about being late.
Of course, you don’t want to wake up earlier at the expense of losing even more sleep (I’m assuming that you aren’t getting enough already), so you will need to find ways to go to bed earlier. Cutting out some TV or internet browsing at night is well worth the extra sleep you’ll get, and certainly worth the calm, relaxed morning you’ll have the next day.
2. Bike (or Run/Walk) to Work
I started biking to work about a year ago, and my only regret is not doing it sooner. For some of you this may not be an option if you live too far from work, but if you’re close enough, give this a shot! You’ll love it. Biking to work is exhilarating, like being a child again. It’s great for the environment, your body, and your wallet.
It may take you longer to get to work this way (you’re getting up earlier now, right?), but you’ll be having fun, enjoying the outdoors, and avoiding the stresses of your old commute.
Get out of your metal box, and experience the world on your next commute!
3. Eliminate Advertisements and Background Noise
If you’re one of the lucky ones who can do number two above, then you’ll already have this one covered (don’t wear headphones while biking/running!). For the rest of you, try to limit – or eliminate completely – your exposure to advertising during your commute. I think many of us keep the radio on for background noise – to keep our mind numb during the drive. Stop doing this. It can be a distraction from your driving, and it doesn’t help clear your mind, or reduce your stress. If your mind needs something to chew on, roll down a window and listen to the sounds of the world around you, it’s really much better than whatever your favorite radio host is rambling on about, and you may be surprised by how much you enjoy this.
You don’t need to be bombarded by advertisements and talk show hosts pushing their interests on you. Without these distractions, you’ll give your mind a rest, and you’ll likely be more focused on your driving.
If you really can’t stand having the radio off completely, try to stick with some CDs or music from an mp3 player. That way, you can choose music that you know you like, and avoid the commercials and radio static.
4. Go Slowly
Since you’ve woken up earlier, you now have enough time to get to work, so go slowly. Take your time. Enjoy the trees changing colors, the squirrels playing, the colors of the early morning sun. You may even notice beautiful things in your own neighborhood that you hadn’t seen before (I know I did). Don’t get angry when someone cuts you off, just let it happen, knowing that you’ve got plenty of time to get where you’re going.
5. Be Present. Breathe.
Going slowly will help you to be present. Try to be completely present and aware of each moment as it slips by. Be aware of your surroundings. A great way to focus right now is to simply breathe. Breathe in and out. Pay attention to each breath and the movement of the breath throughout your body. At first it may be difficult to stay focused, but over time it will become more natural, and you’ll look forward to your commute as a calm, mind-clearing start to your work day.
If you practice these steps regularly, you’ll begin to look forward to your commute. Your commute will become a form of mental preparation for the day ahead, free of the stress, worrying, and rushing.
How are you working to improve your morning routine and commute?
Leave sooner, drive slower, live longer. – Unknown