Do you know which hour of your day is the most dangerous? Your daily commute is more stressful than what police officers experience in training. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine found that being stuck in a traffic jam more than doubles one’s chance of experiencing a heart attack in the subsequent hour. Not to mention the chronic stress caused by commuting can result in premature aging and possibly accelerate aging by as-much-as 10 years.
We are experiencing longer and longer commutes, and without some promise of relief. Research shows that one in 12 heart attacks is directly related to traffic.
“There is a solution to this crisis, and it is called ‘Me Time.” Consider your commute as a special time to focus on you. You are less stressed when you get to work and throughout your day are in a healthier state of mind.
Steps to a Healthy Commute
- Classroom. Go back to school on your commute. Learn a language, listen to a new book on tape, increase your vocabulary. or take a class you have always wanted to take.
- Choir Loft. Pretend you are on The Voice. Singing on your commute is great for your health. Singing gives you an immune boost by 240 percent.
- Concert Hall. Just listening to your favorite music increases serotonin (a calming healing hormone of the body). Soft music calms the body and reduces heart rate. Energetic happy music stimulates your heart and body.
- Counseling Center. Your commute is an opportunity to improve your mental health. This is a great time to change habits and learn how to heal; listen to tapes on anger, fear, phobias, grief, depression, obesity, divorce, or parenting.
- Chapel. Use this time for spiritual growth, inspiration, or motivation. Guided imagery downloads or CDs can heal blood pressure and increase immunity. Meditation lowers blood pressure, boosts your immune system, and increases memory and creativity. Research shows prayer works. Send light to fellow coworkers, family, and other commuters.
- Comedy Club. Download a comedy performance from a comedian you love to hear. Researchers found laughter increases artery diameter by 22 percent and your stress from the commute decreases the artery diameter 35 percent.
- Comfort. Place comforting mementos in your car to help ground you. Family photos, religious icons, calming phrases, anything that brings you peace in a stressful time.
- Compassion. Realize that you don’t know what’s going on in another vehicle. Let people pass if they are in a hurry, they could be injured, in labor, or on their way to a desperately needed job interview.