Southern California is always plagued with moderate to heavy traffic due to road closures, accidents, and the constant flow of work commuters. Along with Washington D.C. and Honolulu, Western California cities have the worst traffic in the entire country. On average, each traveler spends 90 hours a year sitting idle in traffic, compared to the rest of America wasting about 42 hours in the car.
Collectively, USA Today says that’s 6.9 billion hours of urban commuters’ time was lost in 2014.
That’s a lot of precious moments.
Usually, in this allotted time, we may feel irritation rise up inside us, impatiently pound on our horns, and drown our minds with thoughts of every activity in the world we would rather be doing. These are all common behaviors of traffic-sitters, and yet, they’re not much fun to partake in.
Nobody enjoys traffic, but we’re here to tell you that your valuable time sitting in traffic doesn’t have to be that excruciating, because…
1. There’s an App For That
A new app for iPads clears the road with a swipe of your finger!
Just kidding – we wish it were that easy. However, there are a few apps that can help you steer clear of some high traffic zones, such as Waze and Beat the Traffic, which navigating you through back roads and gives you a heads up if congestion is near.
Sure, the apps are helpful and can shave a few minutes off of a trip, but they don’t make the car ride disappear. Rather than permitting road rage to control your mind, why not use this time to peacefully meditate?
Reflecting and contemplation allows the busy beta waves in your mind to slow down and transform into alpha waves, which for those of us “non-scientists”, have many benefits on our bodies and cause relaxation. Therefore, turn off the music and submerge your thoughts fully in the present moment by dwelling upon these meditation tips and cues:
- Can you feel your inhales expanding in your lungs? Are you exhaling completely?
- Are your inhales longer than your exhales? Try to match and lengthen each breath. Notice the space and stillness between each exhale and inhale.
- Scan each part of your body – from your toes to your fingertips. Name each body part, taking note of the way it feels right now.
- Focus on the lines of the road rather than the sidewalks and billboards.
- Watch your thoughts come and go, like you are on a river and each thought is a wave floating by, unattached.
If these breathing tactics don’t float your boat, Wild Mind suggests, “As drivers pass you, wish them well. Repeat, ‘May you be well, May you be happy’ as cars cut you off.”
3. Turn Up the Music
Meditating isn’t up your alley? Maybe you’re looking for pure entertainment during your car ride rather than self-discovery and inner peace.
If that’s the case, turn up the tunes and sing your heart out! Competing with in the shower, driving in the car is one of the best places to seize a beat and belt out those lyrics without bystander judgment.
Don’t be afraid to add some dance moves into it as well. Just make sure they are car friendly, because you are still driving. Causing another accident with your dancing will only make that traffic, and your frustration, worse.
From iTunes to Pandora and Spotify, there is really no excuse when it comes to listening to music, and everyone loves a catchy jingle. So plug in those Disney show tunes or that 80’s mixtape because it’s time for a joy ride!
4. Listen to a Podcast
When you’ve heard your favorite song too many times, prepare ahead by downloading a podcast from iTunes. There are a ton of different subjects to choose from which include political debates to stand-up acts. Podcasts are a wonderfully entertaining way to get inspired or learn something new.
5. Learn a New Language
Top the guys listening to a podcast about bird callings on their long drives by learning a new language. How more productive can you be than brushing up on your Thai skills on the way to work every morning?
Check out these great website where you can learn a new language:
Soon, you’ll be hoping there’s traffic just to impress your friends with this fresh skill.
6. Snack Like No Other!
Prepare a snack that will get you excited to drive. That way, whenever you sit in traffic, you are still please because you have that freshly made blueberry muffin to keep you company.
But if mindlessly munching is not enough, add a challenge to your calorie intake by:
- Trying to unwrap a starburst wrapper with your tongue
- Tying a cherry stem in your mouth
- Counting how many licks it takes to consume an entire lollipop
Source: Paramount Pictures
Of course, you can buy a pack of bubble gum and take your entertainment to the next level, since there are many tricks to learn when it comes to bubble blowing.
Traffic can be rough, but it is possible to make good use out of the minutes (or hours) of sitting in the car. We only live one life, so make each day, even if you are spending it in traffic, the most enjoyable as possible. We hope these ideas inspire you to find a bit more delight in the 90 hours out of your commuter year.