Growing up in Los Angeles, I’ve spent more than my fair share of time sitting in traffic. Being stuck in a line of cars all trying to make their way to the same general location can feel basically insane—and things get especially bad on holiday weekends. There is no alternate route. Your usual secret shortcut is clogged. You’re trapped. There’s absolutely nothing you can do but sit there, right? Wrong! Yes, you’re penned up in your car inching along so slowly that the walkers and joggers are passing you by, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a total waste of time. Here are some totally productive things you can do when you’re stuck in traffic.
1) Catch Up On Your Reading
Reading while driving? That’s crazy and dangerous! Au contraire, mon ami. Welcome to the wonderful world of audiobooks. You’ve been saying you wish you had more time to read and now you do. Download that bestselling mystery you’ve been hoping to read or finally hop on The Fault in Our Stars party bus. Believe me, I’ve listened to whole books in the span of a couple weeks just sitting in traffic. And your mind doesn’t get the chance to wander since you’re literally a captive audience. Check out a site like Audible or, my personal favorite, your local library.
2) Get Fit
You can’t possibly get in a workout sitting on your butt in a confined space. Oh, except that you can. First of all, start with fixing that posture. Sit up as straight as you can and lift your head, then retract your head so your chin is in line with your shoulders. Hold that for about 30 seconds while slowly inhaling and exhaling. Do that a few times.
Then stretch your neck by tilting your head to one side and holding it for about 10 seconds, then do the same to the other. Do that forwards and back, too.
Stretch your back by holding your steering wheel at 10 and 2 and rounding your spine forward. Hold that for around 10-15 seconds. You can also work your arms from this position by simply pushing on the steering wheel and holding for a few seconds. Release and repeat. Then move your arms to 9 and 3 and push again.
Moving along to the stomach, suck your belly button in towards your spine and hold. Other simple things are doing butt squeezes, small leg raises, and, ladies, may as well cram those Kegel exercises in there, too!
3) Voice Memo Madness
I’m a note taker. I carry around notebooks and make notes with ideas, lists, and more. Just because you can’t pull out your notebook doesn’t mean the organizational fun has to stop. Most phones come with a handy-dandy voice memo tool. It’s super fun to sit and babble out loud to yourself about things you have to do, places you wanna go, or ideas for your latest short story, script, or book. It makes you feel like a regular Agent Dale Cooper.
I’ve been so frustrated in traffic that I’ve burst into tears. Who hasn’t? This seems unproductive but can actually be totally wonderful. Channel all the things that are upsetting you in your life into having that good cry. And to those of you shy about crying in public, try shouting. Just make sure your windows are rolled up. After a nice emotional cleansing, you’ll be pleased to see that you feel more relaxed. Just be sure to finish up your cry by playing a favorite good mood song.
5) Make Calls/Set Up Appointments
Let’s not forget that phones are for more than just texting and taking pictures. Call your friends or your family and catch up! Chances are they’re sitting in traffic like you, wishing they had something to do. You can get and give advice and have a good old-fashioned chat. And if you’re all caught up, see if they want to play a word game, road-trip style. It’s surprisingly fun. Or use the phone to set up all those appointments you’ve been putting off. Then make yourself a voice memo about when the appointment is. Again, you’ll feel like an amazing accomplished business person.
6) Try and Learn All the Words to a Song
I can’t count how many times an entire party seems to know every word to some ridiculous pop song of which I only know about two lines. So take your traffic time to finally learn that dumb song everybody loves, including yourself. I may or may not have learned all of ‘Let it Go’ thanks to the clogged up on ramp of the 405. And once you’ve learned one song, try an album! I happen to love musicals, which are excellent for this kind of thing. Try it out. And impress nobody with your newfound musical prowess.
7) Clean Out Your Purse…Or Car
Take a garbage bag in the car with you and next time you’re stuck, go through your bag and throw out all those old receipts, all those useless business cards, the scrap of paper with the wad of petrified gum in it, everything! Look under the passenger seat and gather up your prized collection of water bottles, the old Taco Bell bag, anything that has a strange smell emanating from it. You’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised by how many hair bands you find.
Images via theguardian