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Unless you work from home, having to commute is a given. Depending on your job location, some people may have to endure a longer commute than others. Long commutes can have some negative effects on mental and physical health but it doesn’t have to be the expectation. Until self-driving cars are here to stay, you’ll need to find some ways to survive your daily commute. Instead of giving into road rage, try some of these tips to make your commute more bearable and, dare we say, happier.

Take a breath

Before you start your commute, take a moment to do some deep breathing to help get centered before you jump into the commute. This small moment of mediation can help you find your moment of Zen and change the course of your day. While you can’t completely zone out while commuting, especially if you’re the driver, you can still practice mindfulness techniques throughout your commute, like progressive relaxation.

Reclaim your drive time

It’s tempting to try to be productive in the car by taking work calls or checking email (please don’t do this while driving!) or even personal calls, consider setting aside your devices to focus behind the wheel. Your commute can be an important buffer between home and work where you can work through the day’s stressors which allows you to be in a better mood when you get to your destination.

Stay in one lane

Despite popular opinion, changing lanes don’t get you to your destination faster. Instead, reduce your stress by picking a lane and staying in it for the duration of your commute if possible. You’ll save yourself the stress of constantly merging and lower the risk of accidents.

Listen to soothing music

Music has a strong effect on our mood but listening to up-tempo music like hip hop, rock, or other high-energy music can increase your chances of getting into an accident, speed or tailgate. Instead, opt for more soothing music like classical or other ambiance-type tunes can make for a calmer trip.

Indulge your interests

Use your drive time to learn something new through a podcast or language app or indulge in a interest you otherwise don’t have time for, like listening to audiobooks.

Stretch!

Sometimes a simple stretch can help reduce stress. This quick neck stretch can be done over time and help reduce back and neck strain: at each red light, tilt your right ear down towards your right shoulder, take a deep breath and then hold for ten seconds. At the next red light, repeat on the left side. You can also stretch your shoulder blades by holding the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 position and rounding your back.

If you’re a passenger in the car, you can also do some seated calf raises: start with your feet flat on the floor and hip-width apart, then raise them up onto the balls of your feet and contract your calf muscles. Hold for 8 to 10 seconds and then lower. Repeat 8 to 12 times or until your muscles are tired.

Indulge in aromatherapy

Try some on-the-go aromatherapy with your favorite calming essential oils or calming air freshener. Scents like lavender, lemon, and jasmine can help keep anxiety at bay and have a calming effect. You can use diffusers that plug into the lighter outlet or onto the vents or simply place a few drops of essential oils on a tissue you place on the dashboard.

With a few adjustments, you can make your commute something to enjoy. There are so many ways you can take advantage of a commute to expand your knowledge, get fresh ideas, and even relax. FCB Homes’ communities are conveniently located to major freeways, making commuting a breeze. Visit FCBHomes.com to learn more.