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We’ve all been there. The clock strikes 5:00 pm, you’re ready to leave work, make it to that evening fitness class and have some time to yourself with what’s left of the rest of your evening. But you still have tasks to complete. You finish what you can in a hurry and leave only to find yourself stuck in traffic with thoughts of work flooding your brain.

You’re not alone in this. A large portion of the population has a hard time pressing the snooze button on stressful work thoughts—nearly 40% of Americans are “almost always” thinking about work during their commute.

Concentrating on these stressors, especially while behind the wheel is distracting and can lead to ignoring what’s going on presently. Whether that be acknowledging the car in front of you, missing a green light or getting overly upset in traffic. Missing out on the present moment not only impacts your driving abilities, but it has a significant impact on your mental health. So, to celebrate National Stress Awareness Day, this post outlines some commuting practices to help reduce stress and create a productive workday or simply leave your work at the office.

Say Your Goals Out Loud Instead of Dwelling On Work Thoughts

Playing solutions to your work problems on repeat (in your head) is what many of us do during our drive to or from work, but this doesn’t do a whole lot to actually solve them. Instead, try repeating your goals out loud.

Goals don’t have to be work-related and it can even create better work-life balance if you make these personal. Here are some things you may want to create goals around:

  1. Hours of sleep per night
  2. Work out regimen
  3. Eating healthily
  4. Milestones for passion projects
  5. Books to read
  6. Learning a new language or concept

Use the Drive to Catch Up With Family and Friends Instead of Answering a Message From Your Boss

Work messages and calls outside of office hours might feel urgent, but as a psychologist, Robert L. Leahy Ph.D. points out this comes from our anxieties.

Take a step back if it’s really a pressing matter. If it’s not you might still have a false sense of urgency. Instead of using your drive to take a work call, try dialing your family or friends while you’re bumper to bumper on your commute instead of frantically picking up the phone for work.

Truth is this call will make you and your loved ones feel better, especially if they haven’t heard from you in a while.

Listen to a New Podcast or Audiobook That Isn’t About Your Work Industry

Use your drive to separate work from your personal time. While many people use their commute to listen to a podcast on industry trends, try listening to something you’re not familiar with. Not only will this motivate you to learn about a new topic or skill, but it will boost your mood.

Try listening to a comedic podcast or a show about personal health and development. Some excellent suggestions in that genre include:

The Lavendaire Lifestyle

Hosted by entrepreneur and YouTuber, Aileen Xu shares weekly inspiration for creating your dream life with tips for personal growth and lifestyle design.

The Joe Rogan Experience

This long-form, in-depth conversation, hosted by Joe Rogan, features guests from the comedy world, athletes, scientists, nutritionists and everything in between that will help you expand your mind. It’s a perfect podcast if you have an hour or longer commute.

The Knowledge Project

Hosted by Shane Parrish, this podcast interviews some of the most remarkable people around the globe, from writers to surgeons, to explore the frameworks and mental models you can use to make life more meaningful and impactful.

TED Talks Daily

This show brings you the latest TED talks in audio format. Hear thought-provoking ideas on every subject imaginable by leading thinkers and doers.

Stuff to Blow Your Mind

This conversational show, hosted by Joe McCormick, is geared towards those serious to learn more about sciences. Explore neurological quandaries, cosmic mysteries, evolutionally marvels and curious questions like “How does greed work?” and “Can money buy happiness?”

To learn more actional tips and ways to practice decreasing work stress on your commute, CarRentals put together this infographic below with more research-backed methods and actionable advice. So, when you join traffic on tomorrow’s commute, try putting some of these methods into action.

About the author: Keilah Keiser is a freelance writer and content creator based in San Diego, CA. She’s covered topics in a variety of industries ranging from startups to travel. When she’s not on the computer, you’ll find her hiking with her dog.

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