After a long year of working from home, more and more people are starting to return to the office. While office camaraderie and even a simple change of scenery have their benefits, the monotony of the daily commute may not be so appealing, and for good reason. Some science suggests that commuting can have a detrimental effect on your health. Whether it’s a traffic jam or boredom getting the better of you, here’s how you can inject some wellness into your daily routine. Get some exercise If you can, walk or bike to work or to the train or bus stop. Not only will you eliminate the stressful parts of your commute, such as parking and traffic, but you’ll also set yourself up for a successful day at work. A lot of research suggests that exercise not only has physical benefits, but also improves mental health. Physical activity has been shown to improve memory or the ability to focus and think critically, increase energy, reduce anxiety and increase overall productivity. Make it social Of course, carpooling saves gas and reduces carbon emissions, which helps protect the environment. But carpooling can also improve your mental and emotional well-being. Commuting, even if you are surrounded by people on public transportation, can become lonely and foster social isolation. Finding another person, whether it’s a coworker or a friend who works nearby, to bike or walk with could improve your mood in the moment and throughout the workday – not to mention make the commute go by faster. Carpooling during a pandemic comes with its own set of risks, so make sure you and your carpool mate agree on the same safety requirements (wearing a mask, vaccinations, etc.) before sharing a ride together. Practice mindfulness Mindfulness, or focusing on the present moment, is a powerful (and relatively simple) way to improve your well-being. Numerous studies suggest that mindfulness practices reduce stress, and mindfulness meditation can help improve attention span and focus, which can only benefit you at work. If you’re driving, mindfulness may take a slightly different turn. An acceptance meditation might help you de-stress during your commute (and at work) by reminding you that difficult circumstances are temporary. Start by observing your physical sensations – perhaps your neck is tense or your hands are sweaty. Next, allow yourself to tolerate these feelings without trying to run away from them. Finally, redirect your thoughts to gratitude – even if you’re irritated or stressed, your body is giving you clues about what it needs, whether it’s a deep breath or a quick break on the way to work. Arrive prepared Arriving late is stressful for everyone, so do your best to prepare for your work day the night before. Pack your lunch, lay out your clothes and make sure you’ve filled up on gas (or charge for electric cars) if you’re driving. And, it goes without saying, try to get a good night’s sleep. It’s amazing how much lack of sleep can affect energy and mood. How you spend your morning can also have an impact on your commute. If you don’t plan to practice meditation on the bus or in the car, try doing five mindfulness exercises as you get out of bed (apps like Headspace and Insight Timer can be great resources). Eating a nutritious breakfast and enjoying your morning coffee before you start your commute can also give you a boost (while preventing “hangover” irritability or caffeine headaches during your commute). Practice gratitude Commuting can be a pain, especially if the longest distance you’ve traveled recently is from your bedroom to your home office. Even if you’re not looking forward to spending the time in the car, train or bus, you can change your perspective and make the most of that time for the sake of your health (and your mood). For example, you can try reframing your commute as an opportunity for some much-needed alone time, or remind yourself that the 30, 60 or 90 minutes between home and work helps you better transition between your tasks and responsibilities.