Whether your daily back-and-forth is fifteen minutes or an hour, commuting can be a huge pain in the a**. Not only is commuting often unpleasant and dreadful, but it can also put you in a bad mood (especially when you get stuck in traffic for what feels like the hundredth time in a row), increase your anxiety and depression levels, and cause your overall happiness to suffer, too. Commuting is a life suck — a mundane task about as pleasurable as going through airport security, and you have to do it every day. You are not exercising, doing challenging work, or anything else that generally makes humans happy. Instead, you are getting nauseous on a bus, pushed on a train, or cut off in traffic. Benjamin Franklin said, “Time is money,” and yours should not go to waste. Here’s how to make the most of your commute:
Read a book or listen to an audiobook.
School’s out for summer, which means it may finally be time to pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read all year but could never find the time. Although your schedule is probably not totally free, reading or listening to an audiobook may be a good use of your time. Also, Barnes and Nobles is arguably the best place ever, so take this as an excuse to go.
Make a playlist.
There’s possibly nothing more enjoyable than driving on an empty road with the windows down and a new playlist blasting. Although driving on an empty road is not a likely scenario when competing with rush hour traffic, new music is a guaranteed mood booster.
According to Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, long commuting times can result in social isolation. He posits that every 10 minutes spent commuting results in 10 percent fewer social connections, which help us feel happy and fulfilled. In order to avoid the risk of social isolation, spark up a conversation with whoever is sitting next to you on the bus or train. Talking to strangers can be interesting, engaging, and beneficial, as you never know whom you’re sitting next to! If you’re driving, take this time to call family members or friends you’ve been too busy to catch up with.
Solitude is hard to find in our always-connected society. Use this time traveling to find space and be more mindful. Powering down will help you sort through your thoughts, remove unhealthy feelings, and combat the notorious fear of missing out. Unplugging can also help in being more present-minded, as it promotes creation over consumption.