Calling All Commuters
Traveling long distances to work and back every day can do quite the number on your physical and emotional well-being. If you’re like me, commuting to a big city like Los Angeles from the suburbs, then your car has probably become somewhat of a second home. Sitting in hours of traffic can feel pretty brain-frying, and one can only listen to so many podcasts and Spotify playlists before it gets old.
Though we don’t often think about it, it’s incredibly important to be intentional about how we spend our commute time and nurturing that space as a whole. As I’ve come to realize this, I’ve had to get creative with ways to make my commute more bearable.
So, if you’re having trouble getting into a comfortable routine with your daily commute, here are some tips and tricks that I’ve found make the process an altogether more enjoyable experience.
Keep your car clean
Just as the cleanliness of your home environment affects your livelihood, so does the cleanliness of your car. I often find myself scarfing down a quick breakfast or stopping for a drive-thru coffee on my frantic mornings up the 110 freeway. Over the course of the week, crumb-filled napkins, half-full cups of coffee and (I’m ashamed to say) tons of water bottles pile up in various crevices of my little Volkswagen bug. I’d often come back to my car after a long day of work, disappointed with the mess I’d made in the morning, yet too tired to do anything about it. The messiness in that space made my commutes particularly drab, and I often felt pretty down on myself for being somewhat of a slob.
Eventually, I decided to make the cleanliness of my car a priority. Setting aside a specific time to clean out the trash, vacuum the floors, and taking it in to the $5 car wash if needed, made my commute that much more enjoyable. I’ve also built up a practice of throwing my trash out the same day, as a way to maintain the cleanliness of my car at all times. Coming to a clean car in the mornings really energizes me and makes me feel ready to take on the day. And when I’ve had a long day at work, coming back to a clean car feels all the more comforting.
Try “audio journaling”
My favorite way of decompressing on a long commute is by doing what I call “audio journaling.” I do this by using the voice memo app on my phone to record myself talking about pretty much anything and everything. I usually do this on my way home from work, as a way to check in with myself. Though it may feel strange at first, it’s helpful to think about it as a diary entry, or something you would normally write down on paper if you weren’t driving.
Most of the time, I simply talk about how I’m feeling, or get out all the thoughts that have been floating around in my head all day in the midst of my workflow. Though it can be a bit slow-going at first, before I know it I’m having a full on conversation with myself and I’m already halfway home! Audio journaling is a great way to utilize your commute time in a way that benefits your mind and opens up space for you feel your emotions fully.
Make phone dates
I’ve found that using my commute to catch up with friends over the phone is a great use of the time and space. This can be a once-in-a-while type of thing or a recurring date that you decide on with your friends, family or partner.
For a while, my best friend, Ashley, and I would talk on the phone every day on my way home from work. It was always really nice to debrief our days together, and share what was on our minds. This is yet another great way to decompress after a long day of work, and also allows you to bring your loved ones into your daily routine. Phone calls, in general, are incredible relationship builders, and offer space for both people to feel heard and understood. Incorporating this mutual sharing of self into an otherwise mundane part of your day, can be incredibly beneficial for both people.
Make space for silence
As much as I love audio journaling and talking on the phone with friends during my commute, having a bit of silence is also incredibly re-centering. Taking fifteen minutes on my way in to work to drive in silence allows me the space to gather my thoughts and prepare for the day ahead.
In the same way, taking a couple minutes or so on the way home allows me to decompress after a long day. For anyone feeling overwhelmed by the fast-paced nature of commuting to a city for work, having a bit of quiet time whenever you can is a great way to create some stillness in your daily routine.
If any of you commuters out there have any tips for making your commute a bit more bearable, feel free to let us know in the comments! ✨