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6 ways to beat the commute blues

A long daily commute is often mind-numbingly unproductive and a waste of time. If your daily road trip were meditative or relaxing, you could at least say you were getting something out of it, but instead you are probably stressed and angry as you push your way through traffic. Don't despair. With a little creativity you can use your time in the car to do your mind (and even your body) some good.

Here are five things that you can do with half an hour twice a day from the comfort of your own (or someone else's) car.

1. Listen to podcasts

Everyone's talking about podcasts. These downloadable audio files range from documentaries to fiction, and give you a fascinating look into whatever topic catches your fancy. The podcast that got everyone talking about podcasts in 2014 was Serial, in which a host unravels a real-life murder mystery. But that's only the very beginning of this new media journey. Check out these leading podcasts to get you started, or these created especially for women.

To play a podcast, you can stream it live from its creator's website, or you can download it onto your smartphone (which is what you'll want to do for your commute), using the Podcasts app for iPhones, the Stitcher app for Android, The Podcasts! app for Windows or bPod for BlackBerry.

2. Listen to audiobooks

If you find that you never have enough time to read books, consider using your daily commute as your literary escape. Audible now provides a vast range of books for download to compatible Kindle devices (including smart phones), so you can devour pretty much any book you'd like to get your teeth into in audio format.

Now you can read anything from the classics to new releases and nonfiction  without so much as opening a book.

3. Learn a language

The best way to learn a language is to hear it spoken. And what better place to listen to the spoken word than in your car? You can use the Michael Thomas Method, a renowned audio language learning process, in which you repeat back the phrases of a language as you hear them, or the Pimsleur Approach, which provides learning in chunks so as not to overwhelm the student.

You can buy these and many other language audio files and CDs on the internet.

4. Expand your music education

You can expand your own music education by making playlists or burning CDs of music you would like to explore. If you've always wanted to know more about the classics from the Beetles to Beethoven then do a little research and download the music you wish you knew more about.

5. Do your kegel exercises

After you've given your ears a workout, it's time to focus on… another part of you. Every woman should do her kegel exercises daily to strengthen her pelvic floor to prepare her for childbirth and prevent her from becoming incontinent later in life. What better place to do them than in the car when you have nothing else to do? (No one can tell.)

To get a pelvic floor workout, first find your kegel muscles they are the ones that you tighten when you don't want to urinate. Clench them (your stomach muscles shouldn't tighten). Hold for three seconds then relax for three seconds. Repeat 12 to 15 times. Try to do this two times a day (on your way to work and on your way home is the perfect interval). And add a second each week as your muscles get stronger.

6. Flatten your stomach

Don't stop with your kegels. There are loads of exercises that you can do while stationery in the sitting position. You can try these to flatten your stomach, or these to help stretch your spine. You're probably not going to manage a full-body workout without getting on your feet, but if you can strengthen your core and relieve the tension in your back and neck, then that alone has made your car trip worthwhile.

Time is a gift use it

It is very easy to become complacent about time spent doing nothing. As these activities show, if you want to use your time behind the wheel or in the passenger seat productively, there are loads of ways to do it. Just change your thinking so that you see your commute as time to be used, not time to be wasted.

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