When was the last time you enjoyed your commute? Whether by car, metro, or foot, commuting to work is often seen as a considerable waste of time, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, there are various ways to make your commute not only enjoyable, but also conducive to your health!

1. Audiobooks & Podcasts

Many people complain that between work, social obligations, and life in general, they don’t have time to read. Today, most books are available as audiobooks and you can download most of them straight to your phone. While there are applications you can subscribe to, such as Audible, you can also check out audiobooks for free from your local library using the app Overdrive. If you prefer reading physical books or have trouble paying attention to an audiobook, try listening to podcasts during your commute instead. Podcasts are significantly shorter than audiobooks and there is a huge variety- from interviews to investigative journalism to panels, there’s something for everyone and they’re free! Continuously learning keeps your brain active, reduces the occurrence of neurological conditions, and raises your self-confidence - you have plenty to share with your friends, children, and grandchildren.

2. Phone a Friend

With social media, it often feels like we’re able to keep up with friends- but do likes and comments actually help in developing or maintaining a deep relationship? Commutes offer a great amount of time to catch up with friends and family. It can also help to boost your self-confidence and start the day on a positive note. Nervous about a presentation at work? Ask a family member for a pep talk! Dreading another 8 hours of busy work? Share funny stories from the good ‘ole days with a college friend that you can later reminisce on during your workday! Not only do these conversations fill your heart with joy, they also have several medical benefits. Studies show that people with strong, deep relationships are generally happier, healthier, and live longer, more fulfilled lives. The busyness of life oftentimes competes with maintaining those relationships, so a commute is the perfect time to continue developing those important relationships. Later in life when you’re retired and no longer have a commute, you’ll still be friends instead of having lost touch with them!

3. Adapted Meditation

Instead of filling your time with more noise, allow the silence of your car to take your mind to a state of meditation. If taking the metro or walking, use noise-cancelling headphones. Granted, this isn’t true meditation because you still have to pay attention to the road, other drivers and pedestrians, but an adapted form of meditation can still be helpful. For those with children at home, this may be the only quiet time you experience all day without much distraction. Take deep, long breaths and focus your thoughts on the day ahead. Taking this time to calmly prepare yourself for what you need to accomplish that day will help you feel less overwhelmed. Be completely aware of your surroundings - the changing leaves on the trees you pass, the flag waving in the air, even the office building undergoing construction. This awareness of the rest of the world will help you feel calm upon arriving to your destination, instead of feeling anxious thinking about everyone else around you. There are various medical benefits to meditation including relieving stress, reduced anxiety, and increased happiness; although this will be an adapted form of meditation, you will still enjoy the same benefits.

Instead of being a time of stress, your commute can become a time where you de-stress. Using these techniques, you can easily make your commute not only productive, but also something to look forward to!