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Don't Let This Everyday Routine Ruin Your Day

By Stepy Kamei

Whether you realize it or not, the way we start our mornings can have a big impact on how succesful the rest of our day is. In particular, our commute to work can cause us to feel stressed, or it can give us a time to clear our thoughts and prepare for the day ahead. When the commute is smooth and we get to work on time, we're focused, energized, and ready to be productive. The same can't always be said for those mornings when we're caught up in traffic, running late, or we're unable to eat breakfast for any number of reasons. We've all experienced a bad commute from time to time, so we've unfortunately all been susceptible to its negative influences on our health. This often manifests itself in issues at the workplace. Fortunately, there are ways to ease the stress that so commonly arrives as a result of a stressful commute.  

Commuting: A Big Part of Our Culture

Studies examining stress caused by commutes showed that the majority of people commute to work by car -- and that people who drove to work were much more likely to experience higher volumes of stress. A significant amount -- 36 percent -- of study participants stated they felt their daily commute had a negative impact on the rest of the day. If this isn't proof we need to improve our commutes, what is? 

Stress in the Commute

Unsurprisingly, unexpected delays or cancellations were the top cause of promoting stress in commuters. The duration of the commute, and the cost of the commute and other commuters were also commonly cited as stressful aspects of traveling to work. Many people surveyed tended to tune out with music, radio, or podcast recordings while traveling to work hoping to drown out the stress around them. While it may seem like this can be relaxing, scientists believe it may just promote a lack of focus or concetration which can carry over into your workday, which is a difficult obstacle to deal with.

Instead of zoning out, try to practice some mindfulness techniques. Focus on the movement of your stomach as you breathe for a calming sensation, and place your electronic devices on silent so, at least for this part of your day, you won't worry about all the messages and emails coming your way. Reciting positive affirmations such as "I feel calm" can go a long way in actually encouraging a sense of relaxation in times of high stress. Finally, try to remain civil and courteous to your fellow commuters, who are probably also stressed out. 

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