Your daily commute to the hospital is only one thing that causes stress and anxiety. Pile that onto your patient load, your home life, and school, well, it’s no wonder we’re going grey in our 20’s.
It’s not just the medical field who has it wrong when it comes to traffic-related stress. Unless you’re a fan of hanging out at the DMV, nobody likes commuting to work.
This study published in August of 2019 shows how commuting impacts our subjective well being (SWB). The lack of predictability, crowding, and length of your commute to the hospital causes stress.
Here are a few tips to help enhance your mood and change the way you feel about your commute.
We’re living in a digital era. When was the last time you drove without your phone, listening to a podcast, or checking your emails (if you’re a passenger)?
We know that too much screen time may increase feelings of anxiousness and stress. Now, sprinkle in the palpitations of being stuck in traffic.
Adding a little fun and increasing mind/body balance is achievable with these simple suggestions.
Sing out loud
No matter what your favorite jam is, singing makes you happy. For real. Even if you have the voice of Satan with a sinus infection, belt it out! Crank the volume so you can’t hear your angelic notes and feel the endorphins flow!
Create backstories for other drivers
Bring a little silliness to your commute to the hospital by creating backstories for other drivers. Seriously.
The next time traffic isn’t moving, pick a person and imagine what they are like. Are they secret spies, or lonely househusbands? Let your imagination run wild.
Don’t think about being stuck in traffic as a waste of time. Don’t let other drivers get to you. You are actually in your own personal think tank. We’ve all got ideas, ambitions, and goals to ponder.
You want to level up your nursing game and get to the ward you like? Verbalize it. Plot your way to something that makes you happy or brings you enjoyment.
2. Educate Yourself
Drink more water. There, you’ve been educated. Just kidding, audiobooks and podcasts are popular thanks to the hands-free movement. Embrace it. Whether it’s motivational, educational, or Howard Stern, there’s always a new podcast to enhance your commute to the hospital.
Shuffle up your typical choices for something new every once and a while to keep things fresh. Your outlook towards your commute makes a big difference.
It’s your choice to let your drive bother you. If you choose to see your daily trip as a time to learn something or listen to something enjoyable, it will be much more relaxing.
If you’re like me, you love the smell of a new book, the weight of it in your hands as you read, yadda yadda yadda. I am a bonafide bookaholic.
Unfortunately, I can’t read and commute at the same time. Enter: audiobooks.
My favorite fiction tales combined with “You Can Do It!” can get you through even the tedious case of congested traffic.
3. Meditation, Mindfulness, & Music
The best way to destress is to practice mindfulness. The keyword in that sentence being practise.
As a medical professional, you know music can help reduce anxiety in pre-op patients. Music, especially classical and pop, reduces stress and anxiety. Something is soothing about music that helps the body relax. Enjoying your morning commute is easy when you add a little Mozart.
Tuning in behind the wheel can reduce levels of stress, anxiousness, and promote mind/body balance. Being your best self can begin before you get to the hospital (or office).
Listening to the sounds around you on your commute to the hospital is a meditation practice known as “Sound and Thought Meditation. Observing the traffic sounds around you, and the thoughts in your mind surrounding them is the key to this meditation technique.
Merely being aware of your emotions and your surroundings is a form of meditation. Acknowledge your feelings towards the traffic congestions, and let it go.
With some deep-breathing and inner dialogue, you will be home in no time.
In a Nutshell
You have enough things to worry about. Don’t let your commute to the hospital is one of them. Use this time to do something you enjoy, take a moment of silence, or learn something new.
There are audiobooks and podcasts you can keep on rotation that will take your mind off the traffic. If you commute by yourself, take this time to brainstorm your next goal or plan.
Research says that a long commute causes issues over three different time horizons: during the commute, after the commute, and long-term (read study above).
Always remember: you have to be your best self to help your patients do their best. A lovely cycle.
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