From long hours to the constant pressure to stay plugged in, modern workers have a lot to feel stressed about. But one factor that has a huge impact on how you feel about your job comes before you step foot in the office. According to Forbes, nearly half of American employees say their commute affects their job satisfaction.
Americans spend a significant chunk of their lives commuting. Collectively, the average 26 minutes we each spend commuting one way to work adds up to 29.6 billion hours a year. All that time spent on the go (or stuck in traffic) influences our mental health both in and out of the office. According to Forbes, the UK’s Office for National Statistics found that every minute that’s added to your commute time makes you feel worse about your job—and life (until you hit the three-hour mark).
Commuting is rarely a pleasant experience, but there are ways to lessen the toll it takes on your life. Opting for public transit over driving is one easy, earth-friendly way to sneak a little exercise into your day. Hours spent standing on the train or sitting in the driver’s seat can also be used as an opportunity to learn something new from an educational podcast. And if that still doesn’t make your experience any less stressful, you can always try convincing your boss of the benefits of working from home, or just dropping a few hints from this gifts for commuters guide to loved ones to help make the experience more relaxing.
This article was originally published in 2016 and has since been updated.