How to reduce stress while commuting


20 Aug

Although there is no antidote to stressful commuting, there are lots of ways to shoo off the energy vulture. Here is how to thrive while you drive.

1. Prepare in advance

One of the best ways to lessen the strain of road rage is to prepare everything the night before. Clothes, documents, attache cases, and even packed lunches should be set the day before to avoid the morning rush. With everything champing at the bit, you would save plenty of time to do your morning routines, devour a good breakfast and enjoy special moments with the family. Best of all, you can dash out the highway free of traffic congestion.

2. Sleep well and wake up early

A good night\'s sleep rejuvenates the body. Make it a habit to have enough sleep and to rise early. If you are already stressed out the day before, an incomplete repose takes over cumulative stress effects into your life at work and at home. Your frustration levels at work eventually rises, your brainpower falters, and your mood at home sours. You have no energy left for enjoying life.

3. Juggle your work hours

Why pack the freeways with all the other "9-to-5"-ers when you can try a ten-to-six or an eight-to-four shift? Depending on your company\'s work policy, try to check out other shifts that fit your lifestyle. Choose one that would help you get rid of energy-depleting stress and allow you to lighten your highway woes.

4. Share your ride

It may be a hassle to coordinate your arrival and departure with another person or two, but carpooling is worth it. Studies show that ridesharing lowers commuter stress significantly. With carpooling, there is less air and noise pollution, less traffic congestion, and you can relax more while someone else does the driving.

5. "Cocoon" in your car

Instead of getting worked up when traffic is at a standstill, utilize your time wisely. Listen to the radio or pop in some music tapes to take your mind off the stop-and-go driving and traffic tie-ups. If you like to read but just cannot have time to flip pages of a book, check out books on cassette. Many libraries have full-length books on tape as well as abridged versions. You can even learn a new language or do some car exercises like shoulder rolls, neck extensions and tummy tucks to help you stay awake and relax.

6. Pillow your back and squirm

When you are standing, the lumbar area of your spine (the lower portion) normally curves inward, toward your abdomen. However, when you are sitting, it tends to slump outward squeezing your spinal disks and putting stress on them. Sometimes, it helps to support your back by tucking a rolled towel or a pillow in that lumbar section. In cases of longer drives, since sitting in one position for longer than 15 minutes gradually stiffens you even with a back pillow, make necessary adjustments for a comfy ride. For instance, you can try putting most of your weight on one buttock and then the other. Then, shift the position of your seat or your buttocks slightly. You may even try sliding down in your seat and sit up again for fun.

7. Work out after work

Since the evening rush is worse than the morning rush because of the compounded fatigue from the workday, it is best to wait out the traffic. Work out at a gym near your office or take meditation classes to relieve your stress. If you plan to go to dinner, see a movie or go shopping, try to do these things near work, delaying your departure enough to miss the maddening rush.

8. Give yourself a break

It may be a good idea to give yourself some days off from work. Many companies today offer compressed working hours or longer working days to give way to work-free days for you to unwind.

9. Move your office

If your job is a long drive ahead every day, inquire at work if the company would allow you to work at home some days of the week or if you can work near your place. An alternative work schedule would make you feel less tense and in control thereby reducing stress.

10. Occasionally change your routine

An occasional change of commuting habits may be advisable too. Try walking or bicycling sometimes for a change. There is nothing like a good walk to ease tension especially when it means you do not have to get in your car and fight rush hour traffic.

By lessening the stress of getting to work, you are conserving enormous amounts of energy that may be lost over stressful commuting. It does not only leave you a lot more energy to do your job and become more productive but it also makes you feel good and gives you a good reason to always start your day right.

Is acne stress related?

Stress - Since your skin in your largest organ, how you live can sure influence how healthy your skin is. And stress, not necessarily "bad" stress, but rather certain external and internal stressors, factor into this health equation. So let us look at how to handle these stressors with regards to acne prevention.

External Stressors - A goal of acne prevention would be to keep your skin pores clear from clogging and becoming infected and irritated, resulting in blemishes and inflammation. So you need to look at your external environment throughout the day for factors that could trigger skin pore clogging. Here are some examples of what to look for: grease, oils and sun, like being around open fryers in kitchen areas, or around machine oil and grease in workshops or factories, or out in the sun all day on a construction jobsite. Too much oil, grease or sun on the skin can clog pores and trigger acne and other skin irritations.

Minimize contact by wearing long sleeves and other protective wear and gear and discussing further options with your dermatologist or healthcare provider. With regards to being out in the sun, note that a small amount of sun each day can be fine and healthy. However, extended periods can trigger the sebaceous glands to create more oil as your skin dries out. At the same time, the dried out skin needs to be cast off or shed at a faster rate than normal. The resulting extra oils and dead skin make a wonderful environment for pore clogging. So here, too, use protective clothing for outdoor activities and apply sunscreen; oil-free products are best for acne-prone people, and those with a minimum protection of SPF 15 and both UVA and UVB protection.

Internal Stressors - Internal stressors like anxiety, fear, low self-esteem, depression and a variety of other internalized emotions, can trigger chemical reactions inside your body that can result in acne flare-ups and other skin irritations. What happens is that these emotions can set your adrenal glands to work creating more cortisol, the substance that in turn causes your sebaceous glands to produce increased amounts of sebum oil, excessive amounts of which can be blocked in pores. Same old story: extra oil + extra dead skin cells = blocked pores, triggering acne flare-ups. With internal stressors, though, the results are usually "inflamed papules" or small, solid inflammations (or skin elevations that do not contain pus), instead of whiteheads or blackheads.

To combat internal stressors and prevent acne problems, here are some suggestions.

Get plenty of rest and sleep a recommended average of eight hours per night. Try to maintain regular hours each day, regardless of which shift your work.

Some say to focus on reducing SWAT: reduce your stress, worry, anxiety and tension, so journal a little each day mentioning any "SWAT" stressors you have felt. And focus on those that may seem overwhelming or to be taking too long to "end," seeking help from others or other resources as needed for stress management Check with your dietician or healthcare provider to establish and follow a regular well-balanced dietary and exercise plan of action to keep your body healthy on the inside and outside. Keep a check list of "Things that Calm You" handy for stressful times, like reading a book, resting, listening to music, taking a walk, going out for an ice cream cone, etc.

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