driver smiling at camera

For many, a large part of of work is getting there. If you find that transporting to work adds to the stress of your workday, then it may be time to change your commuting strategy. Small changes can make a big difference in the way that you feel before, during, and after your commute.

By planning ahead and making smart choices around your work transportation, you can arrive at your desk in top form rather than running on fumes. Try these tips to help make your commute less stressful:

Before Your Commute
A successful trip to work begins before you leave the house. Before you go, check this list:

  • Get ready the night before. Frantically getting ready to get out the door is no way to start your day. To avoid last-minute morning panic, take some time each weeknight to prepare for the coming workday. Put papers in your briefcase, select the clothes you'll wear, prepare your lunch if you bring it with you, and put your keys by the door.
  • Prepare your transportation. No matter what form of transportation you use to get to work, there are steps you can take to ready yourself in advance. If you drive, be sure the gas tank is full. If you take public transportation, be sure you've purchased tickets or a pass, and check that they haven't expired. If you bike, check that your tires are inflated. If you are lucky enough to walk to work, be sure to have what you need for the weather (umbrella, gloves, sunglasses) as well as proper walking shoes or boots for rain and snow.
  • Leave on time. One reason why commuting can be stressful is anxiety about arriving to work late. You can nip these concerns in the bud by making sure that you depart with enough time to get to your destination. Don't cut it close--give yourself a cushion of at least 10 minutes to account for unexpected delays. If you have to, set your alarm earlier to be sure you get out the door when you need to leave.

During Your Commute
Your trip to work sets the tone for your whole day. To ensure yours starts out right, try these strategies:

  • Use your commuting time. With a little planning, the time spent on your daily commute can be enjoyable rather than frustrating. If you drive, you have the perfect opportunity to listen to music or catch up on the news on the radio. Up the enjoyment ante by listening to a book on CD, or preloading songs or podcasts of your choice onto your iPod with a car connector. If you take a bus or train, you have leisure time that you can use to de-stress by reading for pleasure. And if you bike or walk, focus on your breathing and enjoy the exercise!
  • Avoid road rage. Your day can't start smoothly after an aggressive drive to work. Though other drivers may frustrate you, try to be the bigger person and drive defensively. Your safety and stress level depend on it.

After Your Commute
If you've followed the advice above, you've arrived on time to work and perhaps even enjoyed the ride. Keep the calm going with these ideas:

  • Have a plan. To set yourself up for success once you're in the office, follow a routine for your entry. Don't get immediately pulled into demands by others if you can help it. Hang up your coat, put your lunch in the fridge, and check messages.
  • Decompress. Even in the best cases, commuting can be trying. Give yourself a few minutes to shift gears from traffic jams to email. Grab a healthy snack and a hot beverage, and credit yourself with your first job of the day well done!