Top 10 tips for stress-free commuting
Jane Bozier, Registered Nurse and Mindfulness Expert, Bupa UK
Your smartphone may seem like a welcome distraction, but being online all the time
keeps you on edge, watching for the next demand on your time or attention. See if you
can resist the temptation to get your phone out as soon as you’re on the bus or train.
Look around you
If you’re walking through a park, or you have a view from your bus or train, take
a few moments to take in the beauty of nature. Remind yourself that you’re part
of the natural world.
Try mindful driving
If your drive to work is fraught, you may start the work day stressed, which can affect your focus for
the rest of the day. Mindful driving involves turning off any distractions and paying attention to the
journey. Notice the speed limits, traffic lights, crossings, your hands on the wheel, your feet on the
pedals. Coming out of autopilot and making driving a mindful experience may set you up better for
the busy day.
Kick the habit
Try a mindfulness exercise called a ‘habit releaser’ to overcome the monotony of your
journey. Make a small change to your commuting routine. You could walk a different way
to the station, or even just sit somewhere else on the bus or train. Savour the experience
of doing something new, no matter how small.
To help relieve the tension of commuting, try a breathing exercise. Breathe in
slowly through your nose for a count of three. Hold for a count of three. Breathe
out through your mouth for a count of five.
It might not be the done thing on public transport, but try to smile! You’ll probably find
that people smile back and brighten your journey. Studies have shown that smiling is
mutually rewarding; both parties feel good for having shared a smile.
Listen to a mindfulness podcast
Download one of my mindfulness podcasts and listen to it on your journey:
Walk where you can
Walking not only gives you physical exercise, but can also benefit your mental health. Many
people find it much more relaxing than being crammed on to public transport. See if you can
factor plenty of walking into your commute. Perhaps you could walk to the station rather than
getting the bus, or get off the tube a stop early and walk the rest of the way.
See if you can share some of your commute with someone else – perhaps your other
half, a housemate or a colleague. You could arrange to get the same train, or carshare.
You may find this provides a distraction from the irritations of the commute.
Start work at work
Try and keep your commute separate from your working day. Doing your emails
before you get to the office may make the journey even more stressful. Reclaim
your commute by making it part of your own personal time.