What’s the secret to happiness? According to a survey, it’s working close to home. The fact is most of us consider our morning ride to work the worst part of our day. And almost half of the people with long commutes, more than an hour each way, said their stress levels rose on their way to work. And they continue to feel anxious all day long. Not surprisingly, the survey also found that people with long commutes are less energetic and less likely to say they enjoy their jobs.
If you’re thinking, “Thanks for bumming me out, John. I can’t do anything about my long commute," try not to worry. Here are a few ways to offset the negative effects of your trip to work:
- One of the best is: Music. A recent study found that commuters who listened to music had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Researchers say the type of music doesn’t matter, but the tempo does. That’s because our heart rates sync to musical beats. And the tunes with 60 to 80 beats per minute are the most relaxing because they mimic a calm, resting heart rate like Kelly Clarkson's “Because of You.”
- Another way to reduce commuting stress and boost happiness: Carpool. Experts say that one of the biggest reasons we dislike long commutes is because they cut into our time with friends and family. So having a friend along for the ride helps us feel much less isolated.
- Finally: When you get to work, ask for tougher projects. That may sound like the last thing you’d want to do, but according to the survey, the workers who were the most engaged with their jobs had the lowest stress and unhappiness levels, even if they had the longest commutes.