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Hate Your Commute? 8 Mental Tricks to Make Traffic Go By Faster

Instead of giving in to road rage, make your commute happier and safer.

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Ride with a passenger

With the exception of teen drivers, crashes are statistically less likely when there’s a passenger in the car. Set up a carpool with a coworker or bring your partner along when running errands. You’ll have another set of eyes on the road and someone to chat with while you drive. This is what successful people do on their commute.

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Pick the right playlist

A British survey found that drivers who listen to rock, hip-hop, or heavy metal were more likely to tailgate, speed, and get into traffic accidents. On the other hand, those who listened to classical or pop music were less stressed out during their car rides. Turn on a playlist of songs that will lift your spirits and take your mind off any traffic standstill. Here’s what your favorite music says about your personality.

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Make your brain mindful

Studies have shown that mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety. Of course you can’t zone out into a complete state of meditation when you’re behind the wheel, but you can still practice mindfulness techniques. Be aware of every breath you take, and pay (extra) attention to your surroundings. Whenever your mind starts to wander, refocus your thoughts back to the drive. It’s important to pay attention, and keep track of these confusing driving rules.

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Become a podcast addict

Tune in to your favorite podcast to boost your brain or tug your heartstrings while you drive. Depending on the podcast you choose, you can learn a new language, think about niche subjects, or hear heartwarming anecdotes. Audiobooks will also absorb you in an interesting story. Either way, you’ll get wrapped up in what you’re listening to and arrive at your destination before you know it.

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Stay in one lane

One experiment found that a car that changed to a faster lane every chance possible was only 15 seconds ahead of a car that stayed in one lane after a 10-mile stretch in Los Angeles. Pick a lane and stay in it instead of scanning for a faster option. You’ll save yourself the stress of merging and likely won’t arrive at your destination much later.

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Reclaim control over your drive

You might feel stuck when you’re sitting in the car, but ultimately you’re there because of choices like where you work and live. Remind yourself of the reason you’re sitting in traffic—a great job, a nice home, a fun event to attend—to feel more in control and minimize anxiety.

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Slip on comfy shoes

If you know you have a long drive ahead, a pair of comfortable sneakers will make your feet feel much better than they would in your usual work shoes. Plus, swapping your shoes at the end of a workday could signal to your body that it’s time to relax after the daily grind in the office.

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Use an air freshener

Studies have shown that lavender can ease anxiety and reduce systolic blood pressure, so it could help calm you down when gridlocked traffic and inconsiderate drivers make you want to scream. Plug a car aromatherapy diffuser into the lighter outlet to spread the stress-busting scent through your vehicle. Here’s how different aromatherapy scents affect your mood.

Sources: greatist.com, huffingtonpost.com, oprah.com, everydayhealth.com

Originally Published in Reader's Digest