A Guide to Stress-Less Commuting

November 21, 2015

As some of you may know, I recently took a new job in Bethesda, Maryland.  It was a great opportunity, full of challenges with room to grow, so as much as it saddens me to no longer work in the Greater Baltimore area, I had to take it.  That being said, I couldn’t see myself moving out of Baltimore. I love this city and the environment it offers, my friends are here and of course, 30th & Weldon is here!  So I have decided to commute to Bethesda, five days a week even though I haven’t figured out if this is a really smart or really stupid idea.  During off times I can get there in 45-50 minutes.  No too bad.  But during rush hour it can take me up to TWO HOURS to commute there.

But even that is not all bad (YET).  I’ve actually found the time in the morning a nice way to gear up for the day and collect my thoughts, and on the way home it’s time to decompress and shake off the day.  For some odd reason, it’s also made me more timely.  I guess when I don’t have a lot of wiggle room in my commute time, I end up being early or on time for work versus always 2 minutes late.  Who knew?

I’m about two weeks in and these are 1o things that have helped make my long commute less stressful.

  1. Meditate – Center yourself.  Before you even turn the key in the ignition, sit down, put your hands in your lap and take a few deep breaths.  Clearing your mind before you get on the road will help you relax and prepare yourself for the potential hell you are about to experience.
  2. Accept that there is going to be traffic – There is no way around it so you might as well accept it.  This seems like a simple thing. Yes Shae, duh, there is gonna be traffic. But acknowledging and accepting are two very different things and it can make a world of difference.  Accepting allows you to put aside the stress and tension sitting in traffic can bring. Know the traffic. Accept the traffic. Be the traffic. Because… well… you are.
  3. Give yourself enough time – This is not just about you getting somewhere at a specific time, it’s about everyone around you who is also trying to get to that same place at that same time. Traffic is a group effort.  Most of my stress comes from knowing that I’m going to be late or rushing at the last minute to avoid being late.  Over budget your time.  Worst case scenario you get there early and you can get a fresh cup a coffee before starting the day.  This is a good segue to….
  4. Have coffee – LOTS OF COFFEE
  5. Keep your ears happy – Make the world’s best driving playlist (listen to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack to make your journey feel more epic), fall in love with a new podcast (check out our friends over at The Free Cheese if you love video games or my new favorite My Brother, My Brother and Me), learn a language, or ‘read’ a book on tape.
  6. Enjoy the silence – Sometimes I just enjoy a silent car ride. It gives me a chance to get some self time and reflect quietly.  It also gives me a chance to get into my head and over think things but that’s okay too.
  7. Catch up with family or friends – A long drive is a great time to catch up with family members and friends. I find it hard to build time into my day for long phone calls so a long commute is the perfect pre-blocked out amount of time to do so.  Just do it right. Use a bluetooth or hands-free device, pay attention to where you are going (I once missed my exit and drove halfway around the beltway before realizing it) and let the other person know you are driving and sometimes you may have to stop talking for a minute and focus.
  8. Find your route – Know before you go and similar bullshit.  But seriously, know where you are going and what the best route is.
  9. Find your alternate route – Have alternatives. Have the route you take if there is heavy traffic. Have the route you take if it’s late at night. Have the route you take if there is an accident. Have the route you take if you just get impatient and would rather drive longer but with less cars on the road. Have the route…. you get the picture.
  10. Don’t be a dick – If you are a dick, your negative energy will attract more negative energy and others will be more likely to be a dick to you.  Then you just end up in a cluster of dicks and no one likes a sausage fest.  Let others merge. Don’t cut others off.  Don’t honk impatiently. Don’t try to hit people. Don’t drive up the side lane.  Wave to those you let you merge. Or wave even if they don’t want to let you merge and you do it anyway because the lane ends and you have to.  Let it go, if someone cuts you off or honks at you. Ultimately a negative reaction to negative actions only hurts you and your stress levels. So don’t be a dick.

Have commuting tips and tricks? Share them with us!


  • Reply Amy November 23, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Great tips! I’m either super early (on rare occasions) or I’m running late. My goal is to be one of those early people more consistently. Hopefully these tips will help. *fingers crossed*

    • Reply shae-li December 5, 2015 at 6:52 pm

      I hope they are helping! I’m slowing becoming one of those early people….slowly lol

  • Reply Jose December 4, 2015 at 7:34 am

    Have you ever considered commute by bike?…those tips would be very helpful if there weren’t other ways to commute in life and stop suffering from traffic…but there are other ways.

    • Reply shae-li December 5, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      I wish I could commute by bike! That would be amazing! Sadly Baltimore to Bethesda on a bike is a bit like the journey to Mordor….unless you mean motorcycle bike, which I have actually started to consider.

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