A Guide To Surviving Your Morning Commute, Whether You're On The Subway, In A Car, Or Pounding The Pavement

It's no secret that everything is infinitely more difficult in the morning. For instance, surviving your morning commute is an actual struggle. When things go wrong — which is a near-guarantee during morning rush hour — your relatively short ride to work can easily take on the tone of a Lord of the Rings-style epic pilgrimage. Forgive that shamelessly nerdy reference, but you guys know what I'm talking about.

Depending on where you live, each commute takes on a different set of troubles. If you're a city-dweller, odds are you find yourself battling a bunch of strangers for a place on what seems like the last subway car that will ever leave. If you're in the 'burbs, the inevitable bumper-to-bumper traffic between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. is the bane of your existence. But there is hope! You can transform your morning commute into an enjoyable pocket of "me time" that you actually look forward to when you wake up. All you need is a winning combination of time-wasting agents, positive attitude, and delicious wake-up treats.

We've teamed up with Dunkin' Donuts at Home to bring you a survival guide to your morning grind so your rise-and-shine routine is a little less stressful.

If You're Taking Public Transportation

Main threats to your sanity: Congestion, not having a place to sit down, delays, the amount of people around you.

Goal: Catching some morning Zen time, being civil to those in your immediate vicinity.

Distractions: To keep your cool, stick to things that will make your morning commute into a meditation hour. Short, contemplative stories (whether administered by podcast or book) that you can finish in one or two subway rides will to the trick. For music, keep it low-fi and chill with Sia, Feist, and some good old Paul Simon.

  • Books of short stories: Hateship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro, Saturday Night by Susan Orlean, This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
  • Contemplative podcasts: The Moth, This American Life, Snap Judgment
  • Playlist engineered for tranquility: "Little Black Sandals" by Sia, "Duncan" by Paul Simon, "Brandy Alexander" by Feist, "Here Comes The Sun" by The Beatles

Breakfast: Stick to something savory, like a toasted bagel with veggie cream cheese. Maybe go crazy and stick an egg and avocado on there. You deserve it.

It You're Taking A Car

Main threats to your sanity: Freeway traffic, never having enough money for tolls, obnoxious morning talk shows, running out of gas.

Goal: Ease yourself into the day gently while still being alert enough to operate heavy machinery.

Distractions: To keep yourself calm and alert at the same time, your distraction and snack combo will need to be a winning combination of gentle and motivational. Give yourself a reason to look forward to your morning drive with a couple of bestselling books on tape, enlighten yourself with an educational podcast, or listen to a mix of chill-out and "up-and-at-em" tunes.

  • Audiobooks: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple, Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
  • Educational podcasts: Radiolab, Fresh Air, Stuff You Should Know
  • Gently motivational playlist: "Ceremony" by New Order, "American" Lana Del Rey, "Pulling Our Weight" by The Radio Department, "Love Is All Around" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Breakfast: Considering that you need to be safe and keep your hands on the wheel, you want to keep it simple. Make homemade cold brew overnight using a handy to-go bottle and your favorite coffee. Just add an energy bar and you've got a great on-the-go meal.

If You're Walking

Main challenges: Engaging in physical activity; getting out of the door on time; the temptation to hit the snooze button.

Goals: Not spontaneously falling asleep while walking.

Distraction: To wake yourself up early enough to allow for a leisurely stroll, you'll really need to rev yourself up. And what will rev you up if not Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, and show tunes? For books and podcasts, you'll want something to match how productive you are.

  • Audiobooks: Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, Double Down by Mark Halperin and John Heinemann, historical autobiographies
  • Productive person podcasts: The Daily Boost, Lifehack Live, All Things Considered
  • Upbeat playlists: "Countdown" by Beyoncé, "Defying Gravity" from the Wicked soundtrack, "I'm The Best" by Nicki Minaj

Breakfast: As long as you're exercising, you might as well grab something sweet. Snag a donut for your walk and treat yourself.

This post is sponsored by Dunkin' Donuts at Home.

Image: Giphy (3)