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If you’re a part of the 85% of Americans who drive to work, you know how much of a headache a long commute can be. If you think yours is the worst, see how it stacks up against the rest of the country. Taking into account both driving and public transport, the US Census Bureau declares these 10 cities as the worst commutes in the country.

  • 10. Philadelphia, PA (Avg. commute: 30.3 mins, drivers spend 112 hours/year in traffic)
  • 9. Chicago, IL (Avg. commute: 31.8 mins, drivers spend 138 hours/yea in traffic)
  • 8. San Francisco, CA (Avg. commute: 34.4 mins, drivers spend 116 hours/year in traffic)
  • 7. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA (Avg. commute: 32.7 mins, drivers spend 128 hours/year in traffic)
  • 6. Los Angeles, CA (Avg. commute: 30.8 mins, drivers spend 128 hours/year in traffic)
  • 5. Newark, NJ (Avg. commute: 35.3 mins, drivers spend 133 hours/year in traffic)
  • 4. Washington, D.C. (Avg. commute: 30 mins, drivers spend 155 hours/year in traffic)
  • 3. Boston, MA (Avg. commute: 31.14 mins, drivers spend 164 hours/year in traffic)
  • 2. Jersey City, NJ (Avg. commute: 36.5 mins, drivers spend 133 hours/year in traffic)
  • 1. New York, NY (Avg. commute: 37 minutes, drivers spend 133 hours/year in traffic)

Tips to Make Your Commute Less Awful

Studies have shown that our daily commute is one of the least desirable parts of our day. The longer you’re in the car, the less time you spend with your family, and the less sleep you can get. A recent study found that an extra 20 minutes of commute time has the same effect on job satisfaction as a 19% pay cut.

While most of us don’t have the option to shorten or speed up our commute, we can control what we do during the drive.  Here are a few tips that can help make your commute a little more bearable.

Carpool

An easy way to take the stress out of a commute is by carpooling with another commuter. By letting someone else do a share of the driving, you have time to relax, read a book, or catch up on work. By eliminating the mental effort spent driving in traffic, you set yourself up for a stress-free start (or end) to your workday. 

Carpooling also reduces emotional stress by providing the peace of mind that you’re reducing the wear and tear on your car, and spending less money on gas.

Give Yourself More Time

A 2011 study on traffic psychology found that the main cause of commuter stress is the unpredictability of traffic. With travel time out of your control, stress levels rise during your commute. To help relieve this stress, try leaving your house earlier.  By giving yourself more time, you won’t be as worried about being late. This will lower the impact your commute can have on your day. 

Prepare For Your Workday

Studies have shown that people with higher levels of self-control actually become more stressed at activities that calm down others. So instead of listening to music or relaxing, try using your commute to focus on the workday ahead. This preparation can reduce stress and give you a feeling of control over your day.

Visualize what you intend to accomplish. Give yourself that feeling of confidence that comes from being prepared.  Time alone in the car is perfect time to rehearse a presentation you have later, or a sales pitch you’ve been working on.

Learn

Instead of focusing on the time wasted by your commute, try looking at it as an opportunity for self-improvement. Listening to podcasts, audiobooks, or even learning a new language is a great use of your time. A distraction-free commute is an ideal listening/learning environment.

Call Friends and Family

Using a hands-free headset to catch up with friends and family is a great way to turn a miserable commute into a joyful experience.  This can give your commute a sense of purpose, and make for a much more enjoyable use of your time.

Getting thoughts out of your head is a better way to problem solve instead of going over situations in your head. Instead of stewing over that comment from your boss, call a friend and talk through it with them.

Whatever you do to make your commute more pleasant, keep in mind that you are in control of your professional life. It can’t hurt to ask your boss if they would be open to you working from home a few days a week. Remote positions are becoming more and more common these days; so if you’re really getting sick of your commute, keep an eye out for job openings. 

Your health is more important than your job, and if a commute is truly becoming unhealthy for you, it may be time for a change.

Thank you for reading! Knowledge is power, and learning is key to living a better life.

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