De-stressing your commute – turning road rage into road sage

Today, a client arrived a few minutes late for her appointment. She got stuck in traffic due to the tremendous amount of construction that’s going on all over the greater Washington DC metro area. She was able to calm down after a few minutes, and once her session began, she was able to let go of the stress of her commute. But, it got me to thinking about how difficult commuting can be, and how much stress it causes in our daily life.

The average American commuter spends an hour a day driving to and from work. During this stressful, stop-and-go time, it’s likely that blood pressure increases, adrenaline begins pumping, and muscles constrict and tighten. By the time you get home, you’re wiped out and grumpy, and you have less to offer to those you come home to. If this sounds familiar, recognize that you have the power to reduce commuter stress.

Here are a few tips to make your commuter time contribute to — rather than detract from — your life.

Employ adjustable back cushions, pillows, wedges, and lumbar supports for a more comfortable commute. For more information, check out

To successfully sidestep the late-afternoon slump often caused by the stress hormone cortisol, keep some healthy snacks within arms reach. Celery, string cheese, water, and nuts — especially almonds — are good options for the drive home.

Borrow books-on-tape/CD from the library. Consider purely entertaining novels to ease the intensity of your drive.

Learn a foreign language. Libraries also loan out these types of tapes and CD, too.

Use your commute as an opportunity for spiritual or emotional growth. When stressing about a traffic jam, remind yourself that it’s completely out of your control. Remember, attitude is everything.

Practice breathing. When stress occurs, breathing becomes shallow and constricted. Taking full, deep breaths gives the body more oxygen, helping to regulate physical and mental function. Exhaling fully releases tension and built up toxins.

For more ideas on achieving calm in a busy world, consider reading Serenity to Go: Calming Techniques for Your Hectic Life (New Harbinger Publications, 2001) by Mina Hamilton.

Of course regular massage therapy and bodywork can definitely help you to manage the stress of your daily commute. So, invest in yourself and in your health, and book a massage today.

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