The average American has a 25 minute commute to work. Some stats show Dade-county residents only driving a few minutes more, at 29 minute in their car each way. But add an accident on 95, construction on US-1, or good ol' rush hour traffic, and your 29 minute drive easily turns into 45-60 minutes (if you're lucky).
The cultural diversity of Miami, also means we have drivers from all over the world, especially South/Central American, and the Caribbean - where driving rules are very different, to say the least. Miami drivers are infamous for cutting you off, not using their signal (or forgetting to turn theirs off!), and illegal U turns, just to name a few.
Being stuck in the hot, humid, Miami sun, barely moving on the highway after a long day at work, is probably your least favorite part of the day. And then this idiot nearly sideswipes you while that guy is doing stunts on his motorcycle - without a helmet!!! Does he want to die?!
How could this NOT be stressful?!
The secret to changing anything that is predominantly out of our control, like traffic, is to change how you perceive it. Your attitude towards it, and your perspective of it, can radically alter your relationship to anything - including how we drive.
Let's look at it from a different perspective:
You spend at least 1 hour, probably closer to 2 hours, in your car, alone, 5 days a week. Yes, the radio gets old, the drivers are crazy, your lower back hurts, and your arms get tired. It does suck. 10% absolute shit. It's ok to admit it. But how can the remaining 90% become enjoyable, maybe even relaxing?
By changing how you view this time, and how you want to spend it. First, ask yourself, when do you really get any alone time? Time that's just for you? Time to read, like you've been saying you want to, but your eyes are way too tired by the time you lay down to rest... Or time to research that new health plan you've been considering adopting... Time is so precious in our busy lives, especially once you have kids.
So why "waste" almost 2 hours of scared, precious YOU time getting worked up over how slow the viejito is driving in front of you? Why not use that time to do things JUST FOR YOU? That's the first step - changing your perspective! Here are some other ideas for stacking functions with your stressful commute, to transform this daily dread into precious "ME" time. As always, any browsing, downloading, or using your smart phone should be done before you get in the car, while you're parked or completely stopped. Be safe first!
- Reconnect with an old friend. Insert your headset, and call a friend you haven't spoken to in a while. Not your sister, or a friend you talk to all the time. Call someone you've been thinking about, but are always 'too busy' to reach out.
- Explore interesting Podcasts, and learn about that latest health craze, listen to inspiring stories, or enjoy some informative interviews that leave you feeling hopeful for humanity, because there's a lot of great stuff happening in the world, that's not on the nightly news. iPhones come with an app already installed - the purple one. All free!
- Audiobooks - listen while you drive. I love Audible, and "read" so many more books this way. I didn't think I would be able to focus while listening to a book versus reading it, but you can easily rewind 30 seconds when you catch your attention wandering off. Plus, you can bookmark it and make notes while in stand-still traffic, or at a red light - digital highlighting! Not sure what to read? Here's my list of favorites.
- Practice counting the breath. Keeping your eyes on the road, turn off the radio, and sit up straight. Take slow deep breaths, mindfully. Count them, or just focus on the feeling - inhale, belly expands, exhale, belly releases. Relax. If someone cuts you off, stay calm, and carry on. We all make mistakes... yelling won't make anything better.
If you really wanna feel like your in a scared moving vehicle, spruce up your temple on the go:
- Express gratitude. You have a car, with working a/c, and it takes you from point A to point B. Love your ride and it will love you back. When we swap expectation for appreciation, our mood changes instantly.
- Keep it clean and tidy. Clear spaces allow for clear thinking.
- Make it smell nice:
- leave some incense under the seat,
- fresh eucalyptus leaves in an old sock, or any breathable bag, or
- use a clothespin and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Clip onto a/c vent.
- Make your seat comfy. Do you need some lumbar support? Would a small pillow make your drive slightly less miserable? Whatever you can do to be more comfortable, invest in it. Preventing pain is much easier than getting rid of it.
- Decorate it with love. Pretty flower pendant hanging from the mirror, a silly sticker over the horn, how can you make your car more cozy?
Try one or two ideas at a time and see what works best for you. If they don't, try another, until you find the right fit for you. I'd love to hear which idea worked best. If you have other ways you make your daily commute less stressful, I would love to hear them!
Got any specific stressful areas you'd like a new attitude on? Hit me up via email or in the comments below.
Lots of Love,