The Commuter’s Guide to Morning Meditation & Mindfulness

Ah, the dreaded morning commute. Four things to try so you arrive refreshed and ready to be productive.

Around 139 million Americans haul themselves to work outside the home every morning, with an average commute time of 26 minutes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And it isn't exactly time well spent—a long commute is associated with decreased physical activity and increased weight and blood pressure, found a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

But you can turn your commute into an opportunity to get in the right mindset. Here's how you can use that time to arrive at work refreshed and ready to be productive.

Start the Night Before

When you're under tight time constraints, any small thing that goes wrong can send your routine off the rails. In the mornings, you might be choosing an outfit, packing a lunch, and maybe helping others in the household. Room for error or delay is small. By packing the night before, you can reduce the potential for running out of time in the morning. Plus, you won't have to wake up quite as early, helping ensure you get those key eight hours of shuteye. The better rested you are, the smoother your day will go.

Make Time for Meditation

Before you head out of the house, equip yourself with a sense of calm by meditating for a few minutes. It doesn't have to take long. Research from the University of Washington shows people who regularly meditate multitask better, which could make you a safer driver during your commute. If you're unsure where to start, a good meditation app can help. There are tons to choose from, with varying levels of structure, offering everything from help synchronizing your breath to guided prompts.

Take a Different Route

It's easy to get stuck on autopilot on your way to work, but if you drive, walk, or bike, try switching up your route. Your brain likes new stimuli. Needing to pay attention will help you stay present in the moment instead of tuning out, which can keep your mind from going into stressful overdrive. You may even find a better, less-hectic route by changing things up.

Listen to Something Enlightening

A 2016 study from the Transportation Research journal found that Americans rate commuting as high in stress and low in meaningfulness. That's because many view commutes as wasted time. Change that outlook by listening to a podcast. Try one that boosts health, teaches a language, or offers other lessons. You'll learn something new and get a few tips and tricks to apply to your daily life, which will make time on the road feel a lot more useful.

With these practices in place, you might just look forward to that morning commute.

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