Find out how to minimize the impact of commuting on your health. (Luis Alvarez/Getty Images)

Find out how to minimize the impact of commuting on your health. (Luis Alvarez/Getty Images)

The holidays are over and it’s time to get back to work, school and the old routine. For lots of us, that means spending precious moments of life on trains and buses or in cars driving to work or to drop off the kids.

Commuting, especially trips that last longer than 60 minutes, is not just annoying it actually has an impact on your health. A 2014 study from the United Kingdom reported that commuting raises anxiety levels, blood pressure, cholesterol and your odds of becoming depressed. Other recent research shows that driving more than 10 miles a day each way can even spike your blood sugar.

Since refusing to leave your house is not an option, you can try to ease stress and lift your mood during your daily trips. Here are a few things you can pull together this weekend to make sure your journey does not wear you down.

  1. Pimp your playlist: Psychologists report that enjoyable, upbeat music makes it easier to limit your reactions (like anger or anxiety) to being packed into a subway car or stuck in crawling traffic.

Songs to Cure Road Rage and Bus Boredom

Here are a few classics to add to your list:

“Happy” – Pharrell Williams

“Walking in Rhythm” –the Blackbyrds

One woman says that hearing Chaka Khan sing "Ain't Nobody" helps to calm her "commuting-induced road rage." (

One woman says that hearing Chaka Khan sing “Ain’t Nobody” helps to calm her “commuting-induced road rage.” (

“Ain’t Nobody” – Chaka Khan

“The Corinthian Song” – Kathy Taylor

“The Glamorous Life” – Sheila E.

“What a Feeling” – Irene Cara

“Lady” – D’Angelo

“Lovely Day” – Bill Withers

“(Not Just) Knee Deep” – Funkadelic

“Be Happy” – Mary J Blige

  1. Make someone happy. If you spend your days on the bus or train, sharing a little pleasant conversation with a stranger — especially if it involves laughter — can help you feel more positive for the rest of the day.
  2. Work it out. If possible, walk or bike all or part of your commute, even if it’s just a couple of days a week. You will improve your mood for the rest of the day, lower your stress level and burn a few extra calories.
  3. Laugh out loud. Listening to an audiobook, especially a funny one, will take your mind off your surroundings—a great way to ease anxiety and start the day off right. Here are a few suggestions:

Self-Inflicted Wounds – Aisha Tyler

Don’t Make a Black Woman Take off her Earrings – Tyler Perry

I’ll Mature When I’m Dead: Dave Barry’s Amazing Tales of Adulthood – Dave Barry

Love Him or Leave Him, but Don’t Get Stuck With the Tab – Loni Love

  1. Switch up. Take another look at your route. Sometimes we get stuck in old habits, but there just might be a shorter way for you to get to and from work. Try a new train line, a different highway or a new bus. The absolute best way to make a commute better is to make it shorter, so see what you can do.

About Fierce Fridays — Tips for Weekend Well-Being

We each cherish those precious days off at the end of the week, but increasingly those of us who are charter members of the sisterhood of the stressed and overworked are losing our Saturday and Sunday leisure time to weekend work and domestic duties.

To make sure that you do something every weekend that’s just for you, we’ll be sharing a little advice to make those 48 hours a great time to recharge your batteries, bring a little good news into your life, or discover a quick and easy way to improve your health.