If you live in any of the largest 25 metropolitan cities in the world, traffic has likely become an unavoidable part of your day. Wow, even writing that makes me tense up a bit — but there’s no escaping it. Traffic is absolutely terrible and it’s here to stay.
How do we cope with this long, red, illuminated sloth of a monster? Well, first we need to identify all the situations that get our blood boiling. Like most therapeutic practices, being hyper-conscious of these situations is actually the first step in resolving them. Instead of forcing you through this miserable exercise of revisiting some of your most traumatic experiences, I’ve done you a solid favor and listed the ones that are most common — an L.A. resident for the past 31 years, I think you can trust that I've got this.
Below you’ll find a list of some great ways to help quell the animosity driving so hideously provokes.
1. Drink your bottle of water with lemon in the car.
Many of us are doing this on a daily basis already, but if you have to sit through a solid 45-60 minute commute each morning, try to postpone drinking your first cup until you’re in the car, as opposed to the moment you rise out of bed. Why? Because timing is everything when it comes to traffic. You don’t really need to be 100 percent all-systems-go when you’re sitting through a stop-and-go torture chamber.
This little lemon potion works so well, sometimes when we take it before our morning commute our minds are operating at full capacity without our body being able to operate at all! By taking a bottle of water with lemon in the car with you, you’ll have the ability to time your power-up to start just as you’re walking into work. You’re less likely to have to be uncomfortable on your commute if you start filling your bladder halfway through as opposed to 20 minutes before. Anyone who needs to go to bathroom and is being physically prevented from doing so is not someone who should be behind the wheel of a car. If you’re unfamiliar with the water with lemon trend, you can read all about the benefits of this ancient philosophy in a great article Ashley Pitman here.
2. Practice Ujjayi breathing and abdominal routines.
Abdominal exercise routines in the morning are truly a great way to start the day. They wake you up, fix your posture, and help you walk strong and tall for the rest of the working hours. However, holding plank for 3 minutes or getting through 200 sit-ups isn’t always an option when the clock is ticking. Once you’re in the car and going nowhere fast, make use of that time by bringing attention to different parts of your abdomen and then start Ujjayi breath with prolonged, restricted exhales. Work your way around from the obliques to the upper and lower abs and by the time you get to work, you’ll be charged up just as if you had done your normal routine.
3. Try pranayama meditation.
I’ve become a big fan of Pranayama meditation and have discovered that the evening commute is a great time to practice the basics. You may not reach the same euphoric state that you would in a vinyasa-flow yoga-meditation class, but it will help you feel better when you're stressed and worn. I guarantee this will create a smooth landing for your hectic day and you’ll start to enjoy your evenings for what they were meant to be — down time.
4. Turn up the ambient music.
I’m not talking about the AM/FM radio ladies and gentleman. No commercials, no talk shows, no lyrics — just great sounds and good vibes. Some personal suggestions: Chet Baker, Bach, Explosions in the Sky.
5. Be grateful for your time on the road.
This one is by far the hardest. Someone cuts you off and you just want to flip them the bird. When this happens, just walk yourself through a meditation of gratitude, trying to focus and cultivate an awareness of how thankful you are to be here, on earth, with this fellow human. It still surprises me that I’ve actually managed to reduce the number of obscene outbursts coming from my driver’s side window by understanding, somehow, that I'm actually grateful for this person.
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