The Childfree Commuter’s Guide to Staying Sane

One of my least favorite things about working far from home is the seemingly never-ending traffic. It doesn’t matter if I hop on the highway at 2 in the afternoon or 6 in the evening, I seem to be destined to stare into seering tail lights.

I drive roughly 35 miles to and from my home four days a week for work. This equates to about eight hours of sitting on my rear, all alone, in my little tin can of a vehicle.

In the mornings, I sip coffee from a thermos and listen to a popular local radio show, Preston & Steve. To all you Philly and South Jersey dwellers, gadzooks!

My evening commute is quite different. As I’m sure you can relate, I can’t stand traffic. I’m not an angry person by default but stick me on a road with nowhere to go and no change of scenery, and I’m the very definition of road rage. Or at least I was.

I’m not sure when it hit me but I eventually began to realize that, aside from changing jobs, I couldn’t do much about my situation. I could either sit and sulk from the driver’s seat or I could use my time constructively. Either way, the time would pass. How painfully it would pass, however, was up to me.

Here is my commuter’s guide to staying sane:

1. Audiobooks via Hoopla

I’m an ardent reader but the combination of working full-time, commuting, and endeavoring to maintain a semblance of a social life, I struggled to find time for my treasured hobby. My circumstances haven’t changed but I am now able to read an average of three books a month. How?

Hoopla, a cleverly named (FREE) app, partners with local libraries to bring you music, movies, television shows, e-books, and what I use most often, audio books. Depending on the content you choose, the length of time you can borrow an item changes.

For audio books in particular, you have 21 days. One of my favorite things about this app is if for some reason you don’t finish your book, you simply borrow it again and the app will automatically pick up right where you left off. No need to remember your spot. You also have the option to download an audio book for offline use. I do this while I am away from wi-fi to avoid streaming and the data charges that come with it.

I should mention that you will need to enter your library card number in order to access content on the app, so if you don’t already have a library card, get one today!

I also shouldn’t have to mention, but unfortunately do, please don’t watch TV shows while driving. I’m not lying when I say I know someone who streamed Orange is the New Black while driving. You can’t make this stuff up.

2. Podcasts

I only recently discovered the world of podcasts. I honestly can’t tell you why I avoided them for so long because I just don’t know. As an iPhone user, the podcast app not only came with my phone, but isn’t even possible to remove. This means I relegated it, along with the Stocks application, to a folder I aptly call “Undeleteables”

Chris & Bev of Married Without Children

The first podcast I actually listened to was What Would a Feminist Do? I played the episode Choosing to Live Childfree in which Meghan Daum was promoting her new book. I really enjoyed hearing likeminded people discussing an issue I was incredibly passionate about. This venture into podcasts led me to another childfree episode, this time by Married Without Children.

Married Without Children was created by Chris and Bev, a childfree by choice couple in their early thirties. They begin each episode with a sip of a craft beer, encouraging their audience to do the same. You’ll feel like your sitting alongside Chris and Bev as they delve into subjects not just related to being childfree, but everything from Harry Potter to anxiety and depression, making this couple incredibly relatable. Each episode concludes with a brief rating of the beer(s) consumed.

I just love their schtick; seriously, how could you not relax to the sound of crisp beer being broken into, guzzled down, and all the while learning things about a lifestyle you are passionate about?

Again I shouldn’t have to mention, but unfortunately do, please don’t drink beer while driving. I’m not lying when I say I know someone who did this (without knowing it was illegal). Again, you can’t make this stuff up. Also, I may need reevaluate my social circle…

Apple users, you can listen to Married Without Children here.

Android and web users can click here instead.

3. Recharge

This is the one avenue of staying sane I use that doesn’t require any sort of technology. I know, crazy right?

It can be stressful to join an already jammed highway full of anxious commuters just trying to get home. But once your stuck in the slow moving stream, you really don’t have much to do other than alternate pressure on your brake pedal. Your mind isn’t very active which probably lends to road rage.

We live in an increasingly loud world but our brain’s needs haven’t changed. We must have opportunities to recharge in order for our minds to function well. Sure, sitting in traffic may not be ideal, but if you think about it, you’re alone and in a relatively quiet space. Why not use it as a way to escape our daily stress?

Even if you just utilize one minute of your commute, you can clear your head.

Focus on your breathing

Instead of dwelling on that snarky comment your coworker made earlier in the day, work on slowly your breathing. Inhale and exhale deeply and banish those thoughts of upcoming deadlines.

Direct your thoughts

This is a common technique used by psychotherapists and for good reason; it works! After some breathing exercises, create for yourself a positive image. For some, a tropical island with waves crashing on the shore is the epitome of paradise. For others, it is the sound of crunching snow beneath their feet and a view of the vast Alaskan wilderness. Whatever your fancy, think of it. So what if you’re looking at the bumper of the vehicle in front of you? That doesn’t have to be the view your mind sees.

Also I shouldn’t have to mention, but unfortunately do, please do not enter into a full meditative state while driving. I’m not lying when I say I know someone who did this…and with that said, I’m now going to reflect on my choice of friends.
What do you think of these tips? Tell me below!

the rinky-DINK life was featured on Married Without Children after this post. Click here to hear it.

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