One thing I noticed about long commutes was that they tended to take all my energy away. By the time I got to work my coffee was gone and I was tired again, I had wasted precious energy on 40 minutes or more of car-dancing, I had already talked to seven people at red lights, and I had panicked about traffic as well as mostly everything in the world.
I couldn’t sustain this any longer and I knew I had to do something. I’ve kind of narrowed it down into four basic strategies:
1. Wake Up Early and Leave Early
The classic mistake: wake up late, leave late, freak out for an hour in the car, get to work late. It’s true that the initial moment of getting out of bed is close to impossible, but when I wake up early, stretch, and drink a little water, I’m eternally grateful for the extra few minutes. I can leave earlier, too. And then in the car when I have to stop and let a pedestrian cross the road, instead of shouting “WHY IN GOD’S GREEN EARTH IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?” I can let the pedestrian go in a pleasant manner.
2. Pace Yourself
I’ve started trying different things to conserve my energy in the mornings. The first thing I realized is that, as much as I may want to listen to energetic rock-and-roll while chugging espresso at 7 a.m., it helps a lot to put on some soothing music and just calmly zone out during the car or bus ride. It saves my energy for when I get to work and keeps me in the right mood for it. The other thing that helps is to get your lunch and/or breakfast ready at night, so you can just grab it without rushing on your way out.
3. Or, Don’t
Feel free to get excited on your way to work. Car rides can be fun if you have the right tunes, the right weather, and the right mood. Roll down your window, drink your espresso drink (or your green tea), and think happy thoughts.
4. For Goodness Sake, Talk Yourself Out of It
As the cars creep inch by inch down the highway, stopping short just so, it helps to keep reminding yourself: I will not stress. It’s okay. I will not stress. This is not the end of the world. This also has to do with pacing yourself. What’s the point of wasting all that energy so early on? I ask myself all the time: Is this situation really worth feeling pure terror over? If not, just relax. Breathe. It’s going to be all right. Calm yourself with words.
Going nuts in the morning is no fun. But when I wake up early, pace my energy (or don’t), and remain composed in the face of unfortunate driving conditions, I find that the long morning commute is totally manageable and even a good chance to start your morning off right.