How long is your commute to work? 15 minutes? 30 minutes? An hour? The average one-way daily commute for workers across the country is 27.6 minutes, and 9.8% of commuters travel an hour each way, reports the Census Bureau.
Sometimes all you can do is strive to keep your cool, especially during rush hour, but the minutes and hours spent in the car add up. A worker traveling 25.5 minutes each way, 5 days a week would spend about 17 hours per month commuting. Over the course of a year, that adds up to 204 hours spent in the car.
The average American spends 18 days driving per year, says a OnePoll study conducted on behalf of Cooper Tire.
Apart from moving homes or switching jobs, there’s not much you can do to shorten your commute. All the same, there’s plenty you can do to help make the most of the time.
- Wake up by exercising your brain. You may not be able to exercise your body while driving, but you can engage your brain by listening to an audiobook, learning a new language, playing along with a radio or podcast game show, or making an audio recording of the day’s tasks.
- Get happy by boosting your endorphins! Roll up the windows and crank the radio – it’s time to sing! Singing encourages you to take deep breaths and move your body, improving lung function and breathing. It also releases endorphins (a hormone that is associate with feelings of pleasure) and reduces stress. Researchers at the University of Frankfurt in Germany even argue that singing boosts your immune system.
- Save money and gain friends by carpooling. Not only will you save money on gas, but you could also save on your car insurance. When determining your premium, insurance companies take into account the number of miles you drive the insured automobile per year. Since your vehicle isn’t on the road as often, insurance companies could see your car as less of a risk to insure. Decreasing your mileage could lead to a discounted rate on your car insurance. What’s more, carpooling with coworkers could help you get a jumpstart on the day’s happenings, as well as help you build relationships with others at your workplace. Robert Putnam, Harvard political scientist and author, has found that every 10 minutes spent commuting results in 10 percent fewer “social connections,” which are the interactions and connections with fellow humans that help us feel happy and fulfilled.
- Shift your outlook by being intentionally grateful. Don’t let a traffic jam get the best of you. While your commute might not make it on your gratitude list, make a mental list of three things you’re grateful for, or record them as an audio note in your phone. A conscious focus on life’s blessings has been shown to have positive emotional benefits, and it will help put you in a different state of mind upon reaching your destination, whether that’s home or the workplace.
Your daily commute doesn’t have to be a hassle. These four tips can help you have a calm, productive, and enjoyable ride. What do you do to make the most of your commute? Share your tips and tricks with us below!