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Don’t Let Your Daily Commute Drive You Mad

Many of us are all too familiar with the urgency and anxiety associated with our daily commutes to work. Some of us have even tried to gauge traffic flow to pinpoint the ideal time to leave. Despite all of our careful planning, we somehow always roll the dice and end up in the “wrong lane.” No matter how hard we try, we find ourselves in the ever desperate pain of being gridlocked. You might be all too familiar with this feeling, especially if you had to deal with disjointed software systems. So how does one overcome the mounting anxiety associated with being held captive by idling engines? Here are a few ways to help you keep your daily commute from driving you mad.

Take an Alternate Route

You may feel the way you go to work each day is the most efficient, but how do you know for sure unless you have tried it for yourself. Just like working within an antiquated software system, there could be a better way; you only have to be willing to try it. According to Lifehacker, picking an alternative route to work can force you to engage your problem-solving skills associated with different parts of your brain (Ravenscraft, 2013). Taking a different way can force you to slow down and focus more on your driving, which ultimately could help you to avoid an accident.

Just Smile

Sometimes exchanging a smile with the person next to you can give you a boost of positivity and find the sense of humor in the situation. In one study, even an inauthentic smile can have a positive effect on the stress response in people. The study showed that participants required to smile regardless of the reason had lower heart rates than those that did not (Kraft and Pressman, 2012).

Allow Someone to Merge

Bottlenecks in software are a nuisance for those that don’t have an all-encompassing view of their solution. It can also be a challenge for drivers during their commutes too. So while an end-to-end solution can help you in the office, the “zipper merge” can help you safely navigate the road. If you are driving in a lane with a “Lane Closed Ahead” sign; the best way to keep traffic running smoothly is to go all the way to the point where the two lanes converge and then merge into the open lane. The “zipper merge” has been proven to keep traffic flowing efficiently as long as everyone lets go of their ego and allow others to merge ahead.

As the saying goes, “It’s not what happens to you that defines you; it’s how you respond to it.” So while being stuck in the clutches of yet another soul-draining traffic jam, use these tools we discussed to drive yourself to work instead of crazy.

Ravenscraft, E. (2013, June 26). Find a Different Route to Work and Exercise Your Brain. Retrieved October 19, 2017, from

Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman. Grin and Bear It: The Influence of Manipulated Positive Facial Expression on the Stress ResponsePsychological Science, 2012 (in press)