Getting stuck in traffic can be stressful, especially on the way to and from work when you want to get to your destination as quickly as possible. Unfortunately for many of us, there is not much we can do to avoid getting caught in traffic jams every day. Here are five small steps you can take to make your commute healthier for your body and mind.

Be Courteous

It is easy to get upset when a driver cuts you off or someone else snags the last parking space. However, this can increase your stress levels and may even lead to road rage. You cannot control the other drivers on the road, but you can choose to be courteous to them.

Always maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you so you can react to changes quickly. Use your turn signal so other drivers know your intentions. If a driver is tailgating you or seems angry, give them plenty of room and consider changing lanes to prevent the situation from escalating.

Keep Your Mind Engaged

Music can help break up the monotony of a long commute, but it can be easy to zone out when it is playing in the
background, which can be a safety concern. Keep your mind engaged by learning something new while you are waiting in traffic. Listen to podcasts on subjects you want to know more about or download an app that teaches you a new language.

Practice Mindfulness

It can be difficult to relax behind the wheel because you still need to pay attention to the road, but you can practice mindfulness without getting distracted.

As you drive, try to be aware of your body and what is going on around you. Take deep breaths if you find yourself getting agitated. This can actually help you put all your focus on driving and avoid the tendency many of us have to drive mindlessly.

Rethink Your Transportation

Some studies show that driving is the most stressful way to commute. Unfortunately, it is also the most common, with more than 75 percent of Americans driving to work alone each day. Some people live in rural areas, where access to public transportation is limited, while others simply live too far away to consider other transportation options.

If you live within a few miles of work, consider skipping the car and riding your bike or walking to the office instead. This gives you the opportunity to get in some physical activity, which is recommended for optimal health.

The American Cancer Society recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week and walking or biking to work can help you get closer to achieving this goal.

Driving also contributes to air pollution, which is considered a carcinogen. By walking or biking, you can help make the air in your community cleaner.

If you must drive to work, consider carpooling. Not only does this reduce the number of cars on the road, it can
also save you money if you split gas costs with passengers. You will also have people to converse with during your commute, which can help keep stress levels low.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can make you feel sleepy, which is the last thing you need during a long commute. While coffee can help you wake up, you should also drink plenty of water. There are varying opinions about how much you should drink, but many doctors recommend guzzling down at least two liters per day. Bring a reusable bottle with you
and refill at work as needed.

Improve Your Wellbeing at HOPE Cancer Center of East Texas

You may not be able to shorten your commute, but you can take steps to make it less stressful. At HOPE Cancer Center of East Texas, we take the same approach to treating cancer. Our highly-skilled, compassionate team will work with you to help take the stress out of your treatment. The oncology specialists at our five locations provide the highest standard of care right where you are.

Call 903.592.6152 to learn more about our services or schedule an appointment online.