How to relieve stress from Traffic: A 7 minute solution
Road Rage and Traffic
United States is one of the most developed countries but when it comes to traffic, especially rush hour traffic, the infrastructure needs improvement.
On an average, people sit idle for 40 hours, yes 40 hours, every year in the top 10 worst traffic cities, with Hawaii, LA, New York leading the way.
For the past 5 years my daily commute takes me through some of the most congested highways. Initially driving through the congestion was not a problem. I would listen to my favorite radio shows, songs or reach out to my friends making good use of my time. But I started getting frustrated after 3 months into this routine. Just to beat the traffic I would have to wake up really early, go to work, work late to avoid traffic and get home really late. In spite of this extremely hectic schedule, I would still get stuck in traffic and end up getting even more frustrated. The repetitiveness of the radio shows, songs and conversations started to get boring. As a result, I could not concentrate on work, started to suffer from anxiety and would get easily irritated.
Six months into this and I realized that I was getting alienated from everyone around me. The realization hit me that I was suffering from stress and anxiety caused by traffic and road rage! I would push myself to concentrate harder at work and started being extra nice to people around me. But I was faking it! I realized that it was not the solution to my problem. I needed to find something that actually fixed the problem and not the symptoms. I needed a solution to break free from this traffic induced stress. I started looking for solutions to deal with stress and anxiety online as well as offline. Most articles, books and blogs talked about relieving anxiety and stress but they were not specific enough when it came to dealing with traffic induced stress.
My 7 Minute Solution
After a lot of trial and error I found a way! I started to practice meditation centered on my commute. 7 minutes of meditation right after commute to work and 7 minutes of meditation after reaching home. After commuting to work, thanks to the traffic, the car would already be at the perfect temperature, hot or cold, depending on the season. I set an alarm on my phone for 7 minutes, recline my seat and do the following steps. I would urge you to do the same after your commute:
- Close your eyes and take deep breaths, so that your heart beat goes to normal and your brain tries to forget the crazy people on the road and is ready to RELAX!
- Count from 7 to 1, visualizing each number and in your mind say RELAX.
- Imagine you are at the beach, feeling the fresh breeze touch your face and listening to sound of waves (think of some other peaceful place if you dislike beaches.)
- Visualize you are having good time with your friends and family. You are excelling in your work.
- Count from 1 to 7, visualizing each number and start to move your finger tips on the count of 4.
- Open your eyes and feel ready and energized for a wonderful day ahead.
I repeated the same exercise after reaching home and within 3 weeks I started to notice a huge difference. I regained my focus at work and excelled, improved my relations and regained peace and balance. If you have to suffer through long and/or traffic congested commutes, I hope this 7 minute solution will help you as much as it has helped me.