Is your commute the worst? Here's how to make it better.

Your work commute can have a negative impact on your health, relationships, and even your professional life. Your commute has such an impact on your life that adding 20 minutes to your commute has just as much of a negative effect on your job satisfaction as receiving a 19 percent pay cut. A long morning commute can really impact the overall wellbeing of your life. Let’s find out how.

The negative effects of a long commute

It might not seem like it on the surface, but your long work commute is affecting your life in many ways. For example, you might experience the following because of your commute:

  • Feeling isolated and alone. You’re missing out on time with your family or loved ones. That time alone can cause feelings of isolation.
  • More time sitting. You already sit much of your workday. When you add a long commute on top of that, you’re spending most of your day sitting down. That sedentary lifestyle can put you at risk for chronic disease.
  • More time commuting means less time for healthy habits. It’s hard to hit the gym or cook healthy meals when you spend all the that time in the car. Research shows that when you have a long commute you’re more likely to have high blood pressure, be less fit, and carry more excess weight.
  • Higher stress levels happen when you have time less time to do the things you really need to get done.
  • Less time to maintain healthy relationships. Longer commutes mean less time with family and friends.

How to make your commute better

You can’t always choose the length of your commute. Maybe you simply love your job, or you don’t have the convenience of finding a job closer to home. Either way, you can make your commute better. It’s just a matter of using that travel time the best you can. These ideas can make your commute better.

  • Turn it into exercise. Is your commute short enough that you could bike to work? If so, turn your commute into exercise time. It’ll help offset your sitting time at work and you’ll feel happy and accomplished from the exercise endorphins.
  • Make a carpool. Do you live near a coworker? Turn your commute into a carpool. Not only will it help save the environment and gas, it’ll turn your lonely commute time into time that you can socialize.
  • Eat breakfast. If you don’t normally have time to eat something before your rush out the door in the morning for work, use your commute time to eat. Stock your fridge with easy to eat foods that will help you get a nutritious breakfast in during your drive.
  • Read a book. Reading can help you destress and pass the commute in a productive way. If you take public transit, bring along a book. Drive to work? Get an audio book or podcast.
  • Enjoy focused “me time”. If you’re constantly surrounded with people, your commute can be the perfect time to focus on yourself. Set goals. Listen to the music you like best.

Your commute doesn’t have to make your whole life miserable. Even long commutes can be made better by intentionally using that time enjoyably. It’ll help improve your relationships, your mood, and your health.