Woman looking at her wrist watch while commuting to office in the morning carrying her bag. Office going people walking on a street in the morning.

Ask most people how they feel about commuting and they’re likely to respond negatively, saying it’s boring or even anxiety provoking. However, commuting is an important part of your day, because it sets the tone both for your work days and your evenings at home. Commuting actually acts like a buffer zone between work and your personal life.

If your daily commute is a huge source of stress, it’s time for a re-think. After all, we need to work to pay our bills so commuting can’t totally be avoided. But by focusing on health and well-being, you can totally transform your daily commute into a positive part of your day.

In no particular order, here are 7 ways to take the stress out of commuting:

Plan your route wisely

No matter where you live or work, there are always going to be certain routes that are heavily congested during rush hour. While traffic can’t be avoided entirely, it is worth looking for alternative routes or methods of transport you can take into work.

This can be as simple as checking Google maps for the traffic situation, or seeing if there is a bus or metro station close by work. Perhaps you could even drive part of the way, and hop on the subway for the last part of your journey, avoiding the worst of the traffic? This might even save you time and money on parking, too!

If you don’t live near enough the office and the weather is good, why not try walking or cycling into work instead? Besides helping you reach your exercise quota for the week, exercise can also help to reduce your blood pressure and make you feel calmer.

Be productive

If your commute doesn’t involve driving and you don’t have to concentrate on the road, commuting actually provides a chance to be productive. In turn, this can make the rest of your day less stressful.

For example, you can go through your email inbox or make a to-do list for the day ahead or the following day. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of crossing items off of a to-do list. We sometimes even include items that we’ve already completed that day, just so we can cross them off the list!

Making a to-do list can also help to settle your mind, and will help you feel on top of everything you need to do for your job, family or other aspects of your life.

Cut down your costs

Another huge stress for commuters is the cost of getting to work. Unless you work from home are within walking distance of the office, chances are you’re spending hundreds if not thousands per year paying to get to and from work. However, there are ways you can cut costs, and therefore stress, from your commute.

Start with looking at all the transport options available to your place of work, and weighing up which would be the cheapest. Also find out if you can get a season ticket if you take the train or other public transportation, or if your work offers any discounts to commuting employees.

If you drive to work, have you thought about improving your fuel efficiency to save money on your fuel costs? Check your tires are properly inflated and that you don’t accelerate or brake too harshly.

Car insurance is another unavoidable expense for drivers, but one that can often be reduced. Before you renew your policy for the next year, be sure to compare prices. You can do this through a comparison site or by checking the 10 largest car insurance companies.

Tag along with a friend

Your daily commute can be a lot more fun if you find someone else to share it with. Whether you drive or take public transportation, perhaps you can commute with a coworker who lives nearby and travels the same route as you to work.

If you drive to work, a carpooling scheme is not only great for boosting relationships in the office, it’s also more environmentally friendly. Discussing the day’s event with a coworker can help to ease tension before you get home.

Besides, friendship is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Being friends with someone in your field can also help you network, so it really is a win-win situation.

Use the time to unwind

If your job is particularly stressful, then using your commute to listen or read can help reduce anxiety levels.

Whether you take public transportation or drive to work, it’s easy these days to listen to podcasts that put you in a good frame of mind. You can even listen to a comedian or a particular radio show you enjoy.

Alternatively, listening to calming music on either leg of your commute can help. There are plenty of free playlists on YouTube offering calming, relaxing music to help wash away feelings of stress. Simply put your headphones on and let the tension melt away, leaving you clear-headed for work or able to properly enjoy your evening at home.

If you’re not driving, using a meditation app during your commute can help to lower adrenaline levels and leave you clear headed.

Change your working hours

For the most part, commuting is stressful due to the large number of fellow commuters jostling for position on the road, train or bus all at the same time. One easy way to make your commute less stressful is to shift your commute an hour earlier or later to avoid the worst of the congestion.

It’s certainly worth asking your boss if this is possible. Besides, if you’re a morning person then having an hour in the office before your coworkers arrive can be incredibly productive. Or vice versa for night owls.

Leave Earlier

Commuting is particularly stressful if you’re running late. It may seem obvious, but leaving 5 to 10 minutes earlier in the morning can really make your commute more relaxing. When something goes wrong, as it inevitably does, you’ll know you have a time buffer to absorb any delay.

Life and work can be stressful enough. Make your commute a little easier on yourself.