Why the Stress of Rushing to Work is Your Biggest Enemy
You’ve most likely had a day where your commute to work was a mad dash. Maybe you woke up late, missed the bus or somehow ended up on the wrong route. These days happen. However, if that describes your typical morning, it’s a sure sign of stress, and your routine needs a change. The continual hamster wheel of morning stress is jeopardizing your health, finances and the well-being of others. That’s why you should try to turn 2016 into a year of relaxation. That doesn’t mean sitting at home all day, but a few lifestyle changes can make the early morning hours less stressful.
If this sounds like you…
A lot of you are under more stress than you realize. Unfortunately, the symptoms of your elevated uneasiness may now seem like normal behaviour. However, for some of you, a camera following you around 24/7 would record hundreds of hours worth of footage that could probably land you a reality T.V. deal. That’s not an insult – it’s just a reflection of our over-stressed society. Perhaps, you can identify with some of the behaviours below.
Jumping out of bed
Jumping out of bed full of energy is a good thing. But if you’re springing out of bed in a nervous jolt because you’re running late, then there’s problem, especially if it happens daily. Waking up long after you hit the snooze button is a common reason for such early-morning adrenaline (which has solutions we’ll address later in this post).
Skipping parts of your morning routine
There’s another problem with rushing to work – you leave important things out. Take breakfast for example. Many of you literally just get dressed and rush out the door. You subject your poor body to a nutrient-deprived state at a time when a solid meal is required most. Sure, you might buy a breakfast sandwich and coffee at Tim Horton’s or Starbucks, but they don’t really provide you with the jumpstart you need in the morning.
Blowing your fuse in traffic
Once you get on the highway, that’s when the morning really takes its toll. Traffic is backed up, people cut you off, drive under the speed limit or harass you for not driving fast enough. You’re already hungry, tired and worried about getting to work on time. Your body is under stress. So finally, an escalating pressure grows inside of you, and a student driver or elderly couple, whose going a bit too slowly, brings out your angry side. You honk, yell and may even stare them down. As you know, these are classic gestures of road rage.
…it’s Time to Stop
Most of you can relate to some of the habits mentioned above. There’s no shame here. But here’s the problem – all of these seemingly normal behaviours are making your life difficult in many ways. The consequences are subtle, but they’ll reveal themselves in the results of your physique, in your bank statements and in the reactions of others. Rarely, are they apparent on a day-to-day basis.
You’re ruining your health
First and foremost, rushing to work (or school) is hurting you. Physically, damage occurs in the form of increased cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure, body aches and insomnia. Mentally and emotionally, you experience more anxiety, a greater risk of depression and overall dissatisfaction with life. All of these sensations occur with changes in your hormones, neurotransmitters and digestion, which can lead to serious illnesses. Sounds frightening doesn’t it?
You’re wrecking your finances
If finance and debt is a concern for you (which it most likely is), slowing your pace is a good idea. Missing breakfast often means a stop at the drive thru. Less sleep means more caffeine (although many workplaces have coffee machines). More headaches can lead to more Tylenol or Advil. Driving faster could land you a speeding ticket or get you into a fender bender (which could mean higher insurance rates). An overall increase in stress could mean forgetting bill payments and impulsive shopping. Although everyone reacts to stress differently, the feeling of overwhelm can easily turn costly.
You’re stressing your counterparts
When you’re stressed out, other people feel it too. Not only may they tell you that they see a change in you, but they may actually feel signs of stress as well. For example, you may lash out at others, or withdraw from them because you’re always tired or burned out. When it comes to driving, you may speed, drive aggressively and take unnecessary risks that not only scares your passengers, but other motorists. Anxiety and stress can really be contagious.
Doing a 180
So far, we’ve mentioned some things that may worry you a bit, such as the health effects of always rushing. Keep in mind, that your body is incredibly resilient, and can take quite a beating before it really breaks down. Additionally, your finances probably won’t crumble overnight, and others can be quite forgiving of you, even at your worst. But why test the limits? It’s better to look at the problem spots in your routine, and how you can fix them. Fortunately, we have some ideas for you.
De-stress the AM
- Gear up the night before – Instead of rushing in the morning, prepare the night before. Pack lunch for you and your family before going to bed. Also, pick your clothes (and iron them) in advance, have your bag ready so you can just pick it up and go, and put gas in the car if it’s running low.
- Improve your sleep hygiene – You already know the importance of adequate sleep, but what are you doing to improve its quality (a.k.a your sleep hygiene). That means minimizing daytime (or evening) napping, caffeine consumption before bed and watching screens (T.V., laptop, phone) while in the sack.
- Feed your body and mind first – When you wake up, make sure to feed your body and mind so you can get through the day. Eating a healthy breakfast will give you energy, prevent you from starving, and keep you alert. Also, light exercise or meditation can give you an instant mood boost that will stave off the signs of stress.
- Work as a team – If you’re living with a spouse, partner, or roommate, working together can greatly reduce your morning “to-do” list. Instead of trying to tackle four tasks, split the workload in half. Sometimes, the cure for a stressful day is to simply do less. And that’s something you can make possible by sharing your duties.
- Tune into the news – Information is bursting out of every corner these days. You have apps, news segments on T.V., social media updates and more, which informs you of traffic congestion, weather conditions and public transit alerts. Tuning into these sources can help you plan an alternate route, or at least give you a justifiable reason to get to work late (that alone can greatly reduce your stress).
Take the Weight Off Your Back
Whether you set New Year’s resolutions or not, you should make 2016 a year where you reduce your stress levels. Why? Well, less anxiety is good for everyone. Your workplace (or school campus) is likely already a stressful place, loaded with tasks, people and situations that may put you under pressure. The least you can do is make your commute to and from such a place, easier to handle. Doing so is possible by preparation. Reflect on the choices you currently make, whether they’re helpful or not, and how you can improve or change them completely. If you see an opportunity to make changes, don’t hesitate to work on them. Your health, your finances and your relationships will only get better.