Office Space came out in 1999, but its opening scene (as with the rest of the movie) remains perfect: an endless, bumper-to-bumper multilane mess of cars inching forward. The driver is neither in control of his immediate situation nor the circumstances which force him to be there. It's one recipe for a stress-bomb among many in our daily commutes — and any other driving we might undertake.
For lots of us, there's no getting around needing to drive a car. We can, however, mitigate the stress of driving and commuting, as shown by new research from Brazil's São Paulo State University. Driving in particular has been found to be a risk factor for cardiovascular problems, including elevated risk for heart attack. One way to mitigate that? Listening to music, of course.
The researchers used instrumental music, which helped participants' brains regulate their heart rate enough to "cancel out" the stress of rush hour traffic. We already know that music brings all kinds of social and health benefits outside of just enjoying it: For instance, learning how to play an instrument can also make your brain more efficient. Music is also one of the best places to experience flow states, which can lead to increased productivity and creativity. Listening to music can even help you move on from a bad day at work.
Whatever genres or stations you prefer, and however you make it to work, check in with your ears. They could keep you healthier and happier all day and beyond.