Our commute to work is getting longer – and that’s not good for our mental or physical health! Because the longer we commute, the more stress we have, the higher our body mass index, and the more strain is put on our relationships. But if you can’t reduce your commute – you can take steps to reduce your reaction to it. Here’s how:

  • Plan on bad traffic. Because the thing that makes commuting the most stressful is the LACK OF CONTROL! That’s according to the Texas Transportation Institute. The stress comes from not knowing when you’re going to get where you’re going – and the time you’re wasting. And the effect is worse on women because women will try to squeeze in errands on the way to or from work. That’s according to the Journal of Health Economics. But if you always plan for a horrible drive, it’ll be easier to take.

  • Take the highway – not surface streets. The nature of city driving – stop and go – increases tension. Even if driving through the city is the shortest distance, it doesn’t give you the psychological satisfaction of cruising along at highway speeds. So, plan the route the has the fewest stop lights and you’ll reduce your stress.

  • Don’t drive on autopilot. We tend to fall into a driving pattern and our brain goes into neutral. But if you change-up your route, you’ll engage your brain, which can make the drive more interesting.

  • Look for the payoff. Economists found that someone with an hour-long commute would need to earn 40 percent more money to be as satisfied as someone who could walk to work. But if a raise isn’t in your future, you need to find a different reward, whether that’s working at a job you love – or coming home to a house with a backyard. The mental toll of a long commute is greatly reduced if the driver feels there’s a reward at one end or the other.